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What is cancer?

Cancer is a condition in which cells in a specific part of the body divide in an uncontrolled way. Types of cancer are named after the organ in the body where the cells are dividing. For example, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) or melanoma (cancer in a specific type of skin cell).

How can we identify cancer?

Signs and symptoms of cancer can be found on the NHS website. Some cancers are more common in certain groups of people and therefore these groups are offered regular screening for cancer.  For example, women over 25 are invited to attend regular cervical screening; women between 50 and 71 years, to attend mammograms (breast screening).

How can we treat cancer?

The type of treatment depends on the type of cancer a person is living with and how advanced it is. Cancer can be treated with surgery,  with chemotherapy(strong medicines that kill cancer cells) and/or radiotherapy  (targeted x-rays that kill cancer cells). 

Can we prevent cancer?

Most people can lower their risk of cancer by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example, not smoking, eating well and being physically active. Some cancers can be prevented by other interventions. For example, the risk of cervical cancer can be substantially reduced by having the HPV vaccine.

Why is research on cancer important?

Research can help us to improve how we prevent, find and treat cancers. In addition, it could help people living with cancer to have longer and better-quality lives. You can learn more about some of the findings from NIHR-funded cancer research below.