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Normally when cells grow old, they die and new cells take their place as the body needs them. Sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumour. A tumour is a clump of abnormal cells.

Tumours can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumours are not cancer, they can grow large but they do not invade tissues or travel to other areas of the body. Malignant tumours are cancer. When tumour spread elsewhere away from the original (primary) site in the body, it is called metastasis. 

Staging is a system used to describe a malignant tumour by its size of the original or primary tumour, whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs of the body. Staging helps your doctor to plan the treatment.

Cancer is complex. The same type of cancer can vary from person to person. The treatment medication regimen is tailored to the needs of the person taking it depending on:

  • The type of cancer
  • The stage of the cancer - tumour size and spread
  • Age and overall health of the patient
  • Treatment goals

Treatment plans may include one or more types of therapy. During treatment cancer progress and tumour response are monitored closely. Treatment plans may be modified to achieve the best possible results. Common forms of cancer therapy may include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Biologic therapy
  • Stem cell transplantation
  • Chemotherapy (chemo)

Chemo is often given several times over weeks or months in course of treatment called cycles. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells or slow cancer's growth over time. Since chemo also kills normal cells, these chemo days are followed by periods of rest when you receive no treatment to let the body recover and produce new healthy cells.

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