What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells.  The human body is made up of many different types of cells and therefore cancer is not a single disease with a single cause or treatment.  There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each with their own diagnostic procedures and treatments. 

Normal cells in the body divide in a uniformed and controlled way.  When cells begin to grow out of control they divide and grow into a lump also known as a tumour.  Tumours are either benign or malignant.    Tests such as blood tests, biopsies and diagnostic investigations can all be used to determine the type of tumour. In a benign tumour, the cells do not spread to other parts of the body and so are not cancerous.  In a malignant tumour, the cancer cells have the ability to spread beyond the original area of the body.

Brain Cancer

What is a brain tumour?

A primary brain tumour is a tumour that started growing in the tissues of the brain. There are nearly 100 different types of brain tumours. They are generally named after the type of cells they started growing from. For example a tumour that develops from the cells that support the nerve cells of the brain called glial cells is called a glioma.

Brain tumours can also be benign (non-malignant).  Benign generally means that the tumour is relatively slow growing, less likely to come back if it is removed and doesn’t have the ability to spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes, benign brain tumours are treated in a similar way to malignant tumours.

Your consultant will fully explain your diagnosis and any treatment to you.