Understanding Cancer

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the cells, which are the body’s basic building blocks. The body constantly makes new cells to help us grow, replace worn out tissue and heal injuries. Normally, cells multiply and die in an orderly way.

Sometimes cells don’t grow, divide and die in the usual way. This may cause blood or lymph fluid in the body to become abnormal or form a lump called a tumour. A tumour can be benign or malignant.

Benign tumour – Cells are confined to one area and are not able to spread to other parts of the body. This is not cancer.

Malignant tumour – This is made up on cancerous cells, which have the ability to spread by travelling through the bloodstream or lymphatic system (lymph fluid).

The cancer that first develops in a tissue or organ is called a primary cancer. A malignant tumour is usually named after the organ or type of cell affected.

(Understanding Chemotherapy, August 2014, NSW Cancer Council).

Find out more from the Cancer Council NSW.