What is cancer and who gets it?

We talk about cancer as if it were one disease but it can be any one of 200 different conditions. What they all share is that they involve the uncontrolled division of cells which harms the body.


Throughout our lives the cells of our body divide to form new cells to allow us to replace ones which die. Usually this is done in a controlled manner but sometimes the process of cell division goes out of control, creating many more cells which may form a tumour - a solid lump. When the cells in this tumour are capable of spreading to other parts of the body, this is called a cancer which if unchecked can lead to destruction of the body's normal tissues. Some cancers affect the blood, lymphatic system and bone marrow - such as myeloma and leukaemia.


Each year around 250,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer* - two thirds of them over the age of 65. The risk of developing most types of cancer increases with age and overall one in third of us will develop it at some point in our lives. Our personal risk is also affected by other factors such as whether we smoke, if we are overweight, the environment around us, and our genes.


New treatments have ensured that many people can live for many years with cancer and some can be cured completely. Screening programmes and better diagnostic techniques are ensuring that many cancers are spotted at an early stage when treatment may be more successful.


Ramsay hospitals offer a range of screening and diagnostic procedures at a time convenient to you, and also offers treatment for some of the most common types of cancer. We offer the support of multi-disciplinary teams who will be working together to ensure you get the care which is right for you.


*References  http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Aboutcancer/Whogetscancer.aspx



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