Information on types of cancer

What is cancer?

In very simple terms cancer is uncontrolled cell growth.

In a healthy individual cells grow, divide, and die in a highly regulated fashion. Cancer cells arise when damage occurs to DNA, which – through very complicated processes, organises and regulates cell behaviour. This damage can be caused by environmental factors (such as excessive sunlight or smoking, to name just two) and it can be inherited.

If cancer cells grow out of control, they may travel to other parts of the body. This process, called metastasis, occurs when cancer cells find their way into the bloodstream or lymphatic system of our body. When this happens, the cancer is still referred to, and treated as, the original cancer type. For example, bowel cancer cells that spread to another organ like the liver, are still considered bowel cancer cells.

More on cancer statistics in Australia

Cancer Research

Sustained research is helping to reduce the death rate by finding better ways to detect, manage and treat all different types of cancer. In just a matter of decades we have made leaps and bounds in identifying risk factors – both environmental and genetic – that cause cancers, and new treatments have been developed that target the very specific fingerprint of certain cancers. This means the overall quality of life of cancer patients is vastly improving, as are their chances of survival.

In fact, the survival rate for many common cancers has increased by more than 30% in just a couple of decades. Research has made a significant impact on the lives of patients with cancer.

The future of research innovation

Twenty years from now we hope that all types of cancer will be treatable: with vaccines (like Professor Ian Frazer’s breakthrough vaccine to prevent cervical cancer), or using gene-based technology, targeted cancer therapies, or other, completely novel methods.

But while the wheels are in motion, major hurdles still remain. For many types of cancer, progress is slow, and even where major discoveries have been made for other types of cancer, there is still significant work to be done.

For maximum progress, we must endeavour to ensure that the best and brightest researchers continue to be drawn to this major problem of mankind. And that funding continues to provide for better facilities and equipment to enable researchers to carry out their vital work into all types of cancer.

Your continued support is vital to the ongoing success of the Foundation and our efforts to fund the very best cancer research.

Today’s research will find tomorrow’s cure.


.CANCERRESEARCH is a collaborative initiative facilitated by ACRF. Its focus is to bring together news, information, and leading opinion on cancer treatment, prevention, diagnosis and cure.

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