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Cancer is a condition in which cells in a part of the body grow and multiply in an uncontrolled way. This growth can cause a lump called a tumour to form.

Tumours can be benign or malignant. Benign tumours can form in many parts of the body but are not cancerous and are usually slow growing. They often cause no damage if left without treatment but they may cause problems by pressing on surrounding organs. Malignant tumours are cancerous which means they tend to grow quite quickly and can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue. Malignant tumours can begin in one area of the body and then the cancerous cells it is made up of can break off and spread to another area, forming a secondary tumour. This process is called metastasis. 

There are over 200 different types of cancer each with its own symptoms and forms of treatment. More than 1 in 3 people will get some type of cancer during their lifetime.

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Useful links

  • The Health A-Z section of this website contains information of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of many types of illnesses.  It also includes video interviews with specialists and patients.  NHS inform is a new national health information service providing a single source of quality assured health information for the public in Scotland.

  • SHOW (Scotland's Health on the Web) provides information on more than 100 topics covering all aspects of healthy living and advice on coping with long-term health conditions as well as the NHS and health services.


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