Cancer is a disease caused by normal cells changing so that they grow in an uncontrolled way. The uncontrolled growth causes a lump called a tumour to form. If not treated, the tumour can cause problems in one or more of the following ways:

  • Spreading into normal tissues nearby
  • Causing pressure on other body structures
  • Spreading to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or blood stream

There are over 200 different types of cancer because there are over 200 different types of body cells.

It is believed that cancers arise from both genetic and environmental factors. In 2006 in the UK, 293,601 people were diagnosed with cancer. Overall, it is estimated that more than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. This compares to an estimated risk of 1 in 27 for people aged up to 50 years

Patients receiving a diagnosis of cancer are likely to feel a range of emotional responses such as anger, blame, guilt, resentment and disbelief, and although there is extensive medical care available for cancer patients from the hospital, these do little to provide adequate emotional support. For a carer to try to help alleviate these feelings can be an extremely daunting task, which is why an increasing number of organisations are being set up to help cancer patients and their carers cope with the trying times that inevitably follow diagnosis.

Most of these organisations are run by people with first-hand experience of cancer, either as sufferers themselves or from caring for family members with the disease. An increasing number of hospices are being established, which offer a wealth of expert emotional support and practical advice to help those caring for cancer patients.

Want to learn more about caring for cancer patients?

  • Links on this page give access to more information and resources on cancer, its treatment and caring for cancer patients 

  • Visit your local carers' service to benefit from the services and opportunities they provide

  • You may wish to meet other carers – who are usually more than happy to share their knowledge and experience with you, by posting messages on our online discussion boards or visiting our chatroom.

Useful resources:

Cancer Research UK

Macmillan Cancer Support

Institute of Cancer Research

Marie Curie Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Research

Breast Cancer Care

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Association for International Cancer Research

Prostate Cancer UK

Cancer Index

Children with Leukaemia

United Kingdom Children’s Cancer

NHS Choices: Cancer