About cancer

There are many different types of cancer. Some are very common, others are rare. As well as having some similar features, each cancer has its own characteristics and symptoms which vary according to the type of cancer and where it is in the body.

Many people can be cured of cancer and those who can’t are living longer and have a better quality of life than previously. New treatments are being developed all the time.

The chances of survival depend a lot on what type of cancer it is, how early the cancer has been detected, and if it has developed or spread in the body. These are important pieces of information your doctor should discuss with you. Being told you have cancer does not mean you are necessarily going to die as a result of it - you can talk to your doctor about the details of your own cancer and how it might develop.

Cancer is not contagious. It can't be caught from someone else and is not usually hereditary (passed on through families).

If you are looking for information about a particular type of cancer you can find more information in our cancer types section

Cancer is the name given to a group of over 200 diseases that can develop in any part of the body. This section gives an overview of what cancer is. 

Find out what cancer is

Some types of cancer may occasionally run in families. Find out more about whether you are more likely to develop cancer because of your family history. 

Find out about cancer and families

Find out more about what causes cancer and changes you could make to reduce your risk of cancer.

Find out about preventing cancer

Find out more about NHS services for people with cancer, general NHS services and what you should expect from the services you receive.

Find out about NHS cancer services

Find out more about the different tests that may be used to confirm a diagnosis of cancer or to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Find out about testing for cancer

Information about the different kinds of doctors, nurses and other professionals that make up your healthcare team and what they do. 

Find out about your healthcare team