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.    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.Tests such as blood tests, biopsies and diagnostic investigations can all be used to determine the type of tumour.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colon cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the colon (the large bowel) or the rectum (sometimes called the back passage). Cancer of the colon or rectum is also called colorectal cancer or bowel cancer.

The colon is part of your digestive system that helps to form stools and absorb food and liquid. The rectum is the lower part of your bowel where stool is stored.