What do I need to know?

It is recommended that you:

  • See a specialist with experience treating your type of cancer. Ask your specialist about their experience.
  • See a specialist who is a member of a multidisciplinary team. You can ask your GP to refer you to one.

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 body 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.

Graphic of a body with a question mark

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.