The body is made up of many types of cells, the body’s basic unit of life. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells. The cells grow and divided in a controlled way to produce more cells according to the needs of the body to be healthy.

Sometimes DNA, the genetic material of a cell can become damaged or changed producing mutations which affect normal cell growth and division. In this case the old cells will not die, but new cells are formed which are not needed by the body. These extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumour.

The abnormal and uncontrolled cell division is called cancer and it is a very serious disease. These cancer cells are able to invade other body tissues. Through the blood and lymph systems they can spread to other parts of the body.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most of the cancers are called in the of the affected organ or type of cell in which they start, for example, cancer that begins in the breast is called breast cancer; Basal cell carcinoma begins in basal cells of the skin.

The main categories of cancer include:

• Leukemia – cancer which starts in blood-forming tissues such as the bone marrow
• Lymphoma and myeloma – cancers that begin in the cells of the immune-system
• Carcinoma – cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover the internal organs
• Sarcoma – cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels or other connective or supportive tissue
• Central nervous system cancers – cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

Healthy food and a good lifestyle can reduce the risk of cancers.