What is Cancer? Find out what the different types of cancer are and how treatment of cancer starts with symptoms and diagnosis.

What is cancer?

Cancer is the name given to a collection of diseases caused by abnormal or uncontrolled cell growth.

Risk factors for cancer

There is no sure way to tell whether or not you will get cancer but there are certain factors such as genetics, age, hormones and environment that can put you at a greater risk.

Treating cancer

The kind of treatment needed will depend on the type and stage of cancer. Common methods for treating cancer include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Types of cancer

As cancer can affect most areas of the body, there are many different types of cancer. The main forms of cancer include carcinomas, sarcomas and lymphomas.

Symptoms of cancer

As there are so many different types of cancer, symptoms can vary quite substantially but there are some common symptoms such as pain and fatigue that occur in a number of different cancers.

Diagnosing cancer

There are a number of different tests and procedures used to diagnose cancer, depending on the type of cancer suspected. These include blood tests, CT scans and MRI's.

Preventing cancer

While there are no guaranteed methods for preventing cancer, watching your weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and staying out of the sun are all factors that will reduce your risk.

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Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

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