Cancer is an illness that comes in many shapes and sizes. There are many, many different types of cancer, each with a name. All cancers have one thing in common – cells grow out of control, form a tumour and crowd out normal cells. This causes problems in the part of the body where the cancer started.
Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. When cancer cells spread, it’s called metastasis.
Some cancers grow and spread fast. Others grow more slowly. They also respond to treatment in different ways. Cancers are treated with surgery or with drugs called chemotherapy or with radiotherapy. Frequently, two or more treatments are used to get the best results.
A cancer diagnosis is always a shock. Being diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most difficult situations a person will have to face in their lifetime. That is partly a legacy from a time when there were few, if any, treatment options. Today there are effective treatments and more people than ever survive cancer and have long, healthy productive lives. Despite the developments in treatment, the impact of the three words “you have cancer” is profound. It takes all the resources that a person can muster to cope well with that diagnosis.