About Cancer

About cancer                        

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the cells in the body. Everyone’s body is made up of millions of cells. Cells normally grow, divide and are renewed in a balanced and regular way. Cancer is caused when this process is disrupted and the cells grow in an uncontrolled way. A solid group of cells is called a tumour, growth or mass.

A tumour can be benign or malignant. Cells in benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumours are cancerous tumours that can go on to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

Cancer explained and how cancer cells work

The following two short videos help to explain what cancer is. Ben Lawrence talks about how cancer cells work, different cancer treatments, precision medicine and his passion for oncology.

Cancer Explained

How Cancer Cells Work

What is oncology?

Oncology is the area of medicine involving cancer. An oncologist is a doctor specialising in the treatment of cancer. Other doctors are involved in the treatment of cancer such as surgeons, palliative care specialists (doctors who specialise in the treatment of symptoms from cancer that cannot be cured) and general physicians (who often are involved in the diagnosis of cancer). If you have cancer you are likely to be referred to some of these doctors depending on the type of treatment that is advised. The Oncology Service also consists of specialised nurses, therapists and social workers as the diagnosis of cancer can affect people and their families in many ways. The Oncology Department alsoworks alongside hospices and the Cancer Society www.cancernz.org.nz who provide support to people with the diagnosis of cancer

What is haematology?

Haematology is the study of diseases which affect the blood and bone marrow. These can be malignant (ie Leukaemia/lymphoma) or non-malignant (ie Haemophilia). It involves the study of the immune, blood clotting and vascular systems.

Primary and secondary cancer

The place where the cancer starts is known as the primary site or primary cancer. If the cancer spreads to another new area then this is known as a secondary cancer or metastatic disease. Benign means that while the tumour may grow, it won’t spread into different parts of the body. Cancer isn’t contagious.

Types of cancer

There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Each type is classified by the type of cell the cancer originates from – for example a breast cell, a lung cell etc.

There are two major categories that all cancer types fall into.

These are:

  • Solid tumour malignancies
  • Blood, or haematological cancers

For more information about specific tumour types, please click the links below.

Solid tumour malignancies


For more information

Living with cancer brings uncertainty but there are targeted treatment options available that may improve quality of life, manage symptoms and have a positive impact on wellbeing.

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A cancer diagnosis affects many lives and making informed decisions is vital. 
If you are looking for additional useful information Cancer Treatments
can help you: www.cancertreatments.co.nz.

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If you are looking for information on Keytruda, their fight cancer website may also be useful.

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