Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.
Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis.
1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the 4 most common types of cancer are:
There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way.
Non-urgent advice: People at higher risk
It’s particularly important to look out for cancer symptoms if:
- you have been diagnosed with a condition that means you’re at higher risk of getting cancer
- 2 or more of your close relatives (such as a parent, brother or sister) have had cancer
Action is being taken by the NHS to increase outcomes, which include:
- Better prevention.
- Faster access to diagnosis.
- Better treatment and care.
Public Health England’s population screening programmes are an important tool in diagnosing cancer.
Multiple commissioners share the responsibility for the commissioning of cancer. They work together through the Peninsula Cancer Alliance to plan and improve outcomes and experiences for people.
Cancer support centres
These centres support people, their carers and families. They are available to anyone affected by cancer. They offer a range of services in a comfortable environment where people can share concerns, ask questions, and receive support.
Page last reviewed: 11 April, 2023