Important information

A person with a suspected cancer should be referred to a specialist who is a member of a relevant multidisciplinary team.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease that occurs in any part of the body. Cancer starts when cells in the bodGraphic of a body with a question marky become abnormal. These cells divide and grow to form a cancer.

There are many different types of cancer. Cancers are named after the place where they start, this is known as a primary cancer. For example, breast cancer starts in the breast, lung cancer starts in the lung.

If the cancer spreads to another part of the body this is known as a secondary or metastatic cancer. For example, someone can be diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in the brain or secondary lung cancer in the liver.

As cancer cells grow, they can form a lump called a tumour. Cancers of the blood or lymphatic system do not usually form tumours.

Not all tumours are cancer. A tumour can be benign or malignant.

  • A benign tumour is not cancer. The cells in a benign tumour can divide and grow but they stay in one area and do not spread to other parts of the body.
  • A malignant tumour is cancer. It contains abnormal cells, which can spread into surrounding tissues or travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Better cancer care

Better cancer care

Every person with cancer should have their care overseen by a specialist on a multidisciplinary team.