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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.

What is cancer of the cervix?

Cancer of the cervix is a malignant tumour that forms in the tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina in women). The cervix is sometimes referred to as the neck of the womb.

CIN (Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia): Cells lining the cervix do not suddenly change into cancer. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that will turn into cancer over time. These changes are called CIN and are not cancer. These changes are often detected at a routine pap screening test (smear test).

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