What happens when someone has cancer?
The millions of cells in our body do different things. Some convert food into energy, and others cluster together for form organs like the heart.
Cells divide and make copies of themselves, replacing older cells and helping you to grow. But if something goes wrong when this happens, an 'abnormal' cell can be created.
Then the cell usually destroys itself.
Sometimes though, abnormal cells carry on dividing. If these abnormal cells are able to spread to other parts of the body, they are called 'malignant'. This is what cancer is.
Find out more
- Causes of cancer
- Types of cancer
- Bone marrow failure disorders
- Diagnosis and tests
- Side effects of treatment
- Cancer and fertility
Updated March 2018, next review due 2021.