Conditions

We’re here to get the best possible life outcomes for every cancer patient. We do that by combining the right clinical teams with innovative and effective treatments.

Cancers we treat

We work with nationally and internationally recognised consultants to design and deliver many cutting-edge treatments that are proven to be safe and effective for cancers in adults.  

There are over 200 different types of cancer, and each are treated in different ways. We personalise your care to you and your condition so it’s often a combination of therapies delivered in a seamless pathway from diagnosis to survivorship. 

The main approaches to cancer care are:

  • Early detection and diagnosis is critical so cancers can be identified before they have spread elsewhere in the body and be treated more easily
  • Surgery to remove tumours (at our partner hospitals)
  • Radiotherapy to target and destroy cancer cells and some difficult-to-reach tumours
  • Systemic therapies – these include chemotherapy, hormone therapies and immunotherapies

You can read more about the types of cancer that we treat at GenesisCare here.

Blood Cancer

Blood cancers occur when your body produces larger, or smaller, numbers of blood cells that don’t function properly. These abnormal blood cells prevent your body from performing its normal functions, including fighting off infections, carrying oxygen around and preventing serious bleeding.

The different types of blood cells are:

  • Red blood cells – that carry oxygen around your body
  • White blood cells – that help fight off infection
  • Platelets – that help stop bleeding

 

These cells are made from stem cells, which are special cells found in your bone marrow.

Blood cancers are categorised according to the type of cell affected.

The three main types of blood cancer are:

Signs and symptoms of blood cancer

Blood cancer may affect your blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Lumps or swellings
  • Weight loss
  • Severe infections
  • A high temperature (fever) or abnormal sweating at night
  • Itchy skin or a rash
  • Pain in your bones and joints
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Skin turning pale

Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have blood cancer and may be a sign of another underlying condition. If you have any concerns, or your symptoms are unexplained or persistent, you should see a doctor.

Blood cancer treatment

At GenesisCare, we offer many of the world’s latest treatment for blood cancers. Our highly experienced cancer experts work as teams to ensure that every patient can access world-class cancer care, within days of diagnosis. You’ll receive a complete personalised care plan that has been designed to support you physically and emotionally throughout your cancer journey. After all, we’re treating you – not just your cancer.

Leukaemia is a where abnormal white blood cells grow in an uncontrolled way. This means you might not be able to fight off infections and can prevent other blood cells from working properly too.

There are four main types of leukaemia which are named based on whether the cancer grows quickly (acute) or slowly (chronic), and the type of stem cell affected. Stem cells are the cells that mature into the various cells found in your blood (red and white blood cells and platelets).

Leukaemia can affect:

  • Myeloid stem cells – which produce red blood cells, platelets and some white blood cells
  • Lymphoid stem cells – which produced white blood cells called B cells and T cells

The four main types of leukaemia are:

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)

Leukaemia can develop in both children and adults. In children and young adults, ALL is the most commonly occurring kind and CML is very rare. AML is the most common amongst 25 to 64 year olds, and CLL in 65s and over.

The causes of leukaemia are not fully understood and it’s hard to know who might develop the condition. There are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of you developing leukaemia, however, having one or more of these factors doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

Risk factors for leukaemia

You’re also more at risk of getting leukaemia if you:

  • Are older – in adults, your risk of developing leukaemia increases with age; it is most common in people 60 or over
  • Are male – chronic myeloid leukaemia and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia are more common in men than women
  • Have a family history of leukaemia
  • Have certain medical condition – such as some blood disorders, Fanconi’s anaemia and Down’s syndrome
  • Smoke
  • Have been exposed to radiation or have previously received radiotherapy
  • Have previously undergone chemotherapy
  • Have been exposed to chemicals, such as benzene or other solvents

Leukaemia can sometimes be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are common to other illnesses. The most common signs of leukaemia before diagnosis are:

  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • High temperature (fever) or sweating during the night
  • Bruising and bleeding
  • Lumps or swellings
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Repeated infections

You should see a doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms, or if you have any concerns.

Lymphoma is a blood cancer that occurs when white blood cells called lymphocytes abnormally grow out of control.

Lymphocytes are part of your immune system and are important in fighting off infections. They travel around your body through your lymph nodes – this is called your lymphatic system. In lymphoma, the abnormal lymphocytes start to accumulate in your lymph nodes and may form a lump.

There are many types of lymphoma, but they can be broadly split into two categories by examining the cancer. They are:

• Hodgkin lymphoma
• Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – there are many types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Around 80% of all lymphomas are Non-Hodgkin and only 20% are Hodgkin.

Lymphoma develops when your lymphocytes stop responding to some signals in the body because of a change in their DNA. Although we don’t know why these changes happen and what exactly causes lymphoma, there are some known risk factors that increase your chance of developing it.

These are:

  • Age – Hodgkin lymphoma is more common if you’re aged 20 to 24 or over 70
  • Sex – most people with Hodgkin lymphoma are men
  • Family history – you’re more likely to develop lymphoma if you have a family member with the condition
  • Your immune system – you’re more likely to develop the cancer if you have a weakened immune system. This may be because you’re receiving immunosuppression medication or have a condition such as HIV or AIDS
  • An infection – in some rare cases, viruses and bacteria can add to the development of a lymphoma if they have caused a chronic immune response
  • Lifestyle – some research has shown that smoking and a diet high in animal products can be linked to lymphoma
  • If you’ve previously had cancer
  • Other conditions of white blood cells – some non-cancerous conditions cause high levels of white blood cells and may later develop into a lymphoma

The most common symptom of lymphoma is a lump. You may have one or more of these and they can usually be found around your neck, collarbone, armpit, and groin.

These lumps are swollen lymph nodes and they are normally painless. You may find the lump becomes painful after drinking alcohol, and it can cause some discomfort if it starts to push on some of your organs.

If you have suspected lymphoma, you may hear your doctor talk about the ‘B symptoms’. Your doctor will look out for these and it will help them stage your cancer and plan your treatment. The B symptoms are high temperature, sweating at night and weight loss.

Myeloma is a cancer that develops in plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that can be found in the bone marrow. They make immunoglobulin proteins which are important in fighting off infection. There are five types of immunoglobulin called IgA, IgD IgE, IgG and IgM.

In myeloma, plasma cells develop at an uncontrollable rate and become abnormal cancerous cells – these are called myeloma cells. Myeloma cells build up in the bone marrow and prevent it from making enough healthy blood cells. Myeloma is often called multiple myeloma, as the cancerous cells can affect the bone marrow in several areas of the body at once, such as the skull, spine, ribs and pelvis.

Myeloma cells also create abnormal immunoglobulins called paraproteins. These proteins are not effective in fighting off infection, so your immune system is weakened.

The type of myeloma you have is often named after the abnormal immunoglobulin it’s making. Around 65% of people have IgG myeloma and 20% IgA myeloma. IgD, IgE and IgM myeloma are rare.

It is not known exactly what causes myeloma, however, there are a number of risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing the condition.

There is a noticeable link between myeloma and another illness called monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS). MGUS is where there is an excess of immunoglobulin proteins in your blood. Around 1% of people with MGUS go on to develop myeloma. As of now there is no way to delay or prevent this from happening, so people with MGUS should have regular checks for myeloma.

Other risk factors for myeloma

You’re also more at risk of getting myeloma if you:

  • Are older – myeloma is more common in people over 65 and rare in individuals under 40
  • Are male
  • Are black
  • Have a family history of myeloma
  • Have a weakened immune system – this may be because you’re receiving immunosuppression medication or have a condition such as HIV or AIDS
  • Have an autoimmune disease – such as pernicious anaemia or lupus
  • Are overweight

You may not have any symptoms in the early stages of myeloma. Often, it’s only diagnosed after a routine blood or urine test.

The most common sign of myeloma is bone pain and fracturing.  Your spine, ribs and pelvis are most likely to be affected.

Other common myeloma symptoms include:

  • Fatigue – you may experience tiredness because of the myeloma or associated complications such as anaemia
  • Recurring infection
  • Kidney damage – abnormal products made from the myeloma can damage the kidneys. Other complications related to the cancer, such as hypercalcaemia (high calcium in the blood) can also damage the kidney

Having one or more of these symptoms does not mean you’ll have myeloma. You should see a doctor if you’re displaying any of these signs to receive a proper diagnosis.

Bone cancer

Bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that can affect any bone in the body. It’s unusual for bone cancer to begin in your bones. It’s much more likely to have spread to your bones (metastasised) from cancer in another part in your body.

Brain and spine cancer

Brain tumours 

Brain tumours are lumps of abnormal cells that have formed in the brain. If a tumour starts in the brain, it’s a primary tumour.

Spinal cord tumours 

Most spinal cord tumours start in the neck and can cause symptoms in the arms and legs, as well as affecting bowel and bladder function

Breast cancer

Breast cancer occurs when normal breast cells acquire mutations leading to uncontrolled growth, creating a tumour. It frequently starts in the cells that line the milk ducts (ductal cancer), but can also arise in breast lobules (lobular cancer).

Non-invasive breast cancer

The earliest form of breast cancer is called non-invasive breast cancer – many doctors call this a pre-cancerous condition rather than cancer. Non-invasive breast cancer is when the abnormal cells haven’t spread from their original location. They cannot usually be felt by your doctor and are most often identified by routine mammography. The vast majority of women diagnosed with non-invasive disease are ultimately cured. Types of non-invasive breast cancer include:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – where abnormal cells are found within the milk ducts of the breast. DCIS is usually treated with radiotherapy and surgery. Untreated, DCIS can go on to become an invasive breast cancer
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) – where abnormal cells are found within breast lobules. LCIS is usually treated with surgery alone. Although LCIS increases the risk of developing cancer, most women with this condition won’t go on to develop breast cancer

Invasive breast cancer

Invasive breast cancer spreads beyond the ducts into other nearby tissues in the breast. Invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for over 80% of all cases. Early breast cancers are often small and frequently do not spread to the lymph nodes. Most patients go on to be cured following treatment.

Other types of breast cancer include:

  • Locally advanced breast cancer, where the cancer has spread to other areas nearby, such as the chest wall (including the skin and muscles of the chest) and lymph nodes
  • Secondary (metastatic or advanced) breast cancer, where cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, liver or lungs

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. It mostly affects women over the age of 50, but younger women and men can get it too.

The causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. This makes it hard to pinpoint who may or may not develop tumours. There are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of you developing breast cancer, however, having one or more of these factors doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

Risk factors for breast cancer

You’re more at risk of getting breast cancer if you:

  • Are older – your risk increases with age, around eight out of ten cases occur in women over the age of 50
  • Have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer – versions of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can be passed on from parent to child and can increase your risk of developing breast cancer
  • Have dense breast tissue
  • Have exposure to hormones, through the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Have a certain lifestyle – such as drinking alcohol on a regular basis, are overweight or obese
  • Have previously had breast cancer or a lump

The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickened tissue in the breast. It is useful to be “breast aware” and know the warning signs. Other symptoms include:

  • Visible changes in the skin of one or both breasts – such as swelling or redness
  • Changes to the feel of the skin – such as puckering or dimpling
  • Changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Different breast colour
  • Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples
  • Inversion (indrawing) of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge (this may contain some blood and is different to breast milk)
  • Crusting or a rash around the nipple
  • Persistent pain in the breast or armpit

Other conditions could cause these changes. If you think you have one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you have cancer. You should see a doctor if you have any concerns.

Breast cancer can be detected using imaging, such as ultrasound or mammography, and biopsy to remove a small portion of tissue or fluid for further investigation. At our One Stop Breast clinics, you can get fast, direct access to an assessment with an expert breast consultant, a mammogram and a result on the same day. We also offer BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing and counselling for women who are concerned about their breast cancer risk.

We offer the latest techniques in breast cancer care including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, advanced radiotherapy without the need for tattoos and organ-sparing techniques such as deep inspiration breath hold as standard.

Our highly experienced cancer experts work as teams to ensure that every patient can access world-class cancer care, within days of diagnosis. You’ll receive a complete personalised care plan that has been designed to support you physically and emotionally through your cancer journey. After all, we’re treating you – not just your cancer.

Central nervous system (CNS) tumours

Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours are the 9th most common cancer in the UK.

The main parts of the brain are:

  • The cerebrum (two halves with four lobes on each side- frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital)
  • The cerebellum
  • The brain stem
  • The pituitary gland

Gastrointestinal cancer

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is the name for cancers affecting the digestive system (or GI tract).

There are a range of types of gastrointestinal cancers including:

Genitourinary cancer

There are many different type of genitourinary cancers which effect both men and women.

Gynaecological cancer

Gynaecological cancers affect a woman’s reproductive system. They can happen to women of all ages but are most common if you’re over 50.

Head & neck cancer

Head and neck cancer is a broad term given to a number of cancers that occur in the head and neck region. It is a reasonably uncommon cancer type in the UK – each year there are around 12,000 new cases diagnosed, that’s around 0.02% of the population. Head and neck cancer is a broad term given to a number of cancers that occur in the head and neck region. It is the 8th most common cancer in the UK but has been increasing in incidence by 10% over the last 10 years.

There are more than 30 areas within the head and neck where these cancers can arise, such as the:

  • Mouth – the most common type
  • Tongue
  • Throat (pharynx/back of the tongue and tonsils)
  • Voice box (larynx)
  • Nose and sinuses
  • Salivary glands
  • Middle ear
  • Back of the nose and mouth (nasopharynx)

Despite their location, cancers of the oesophagus, brain and eye aren’t generally classified as a head and neck cancer.

Causes of head and neck cancer

The exact causes of head and cancers are not known. There are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of you developing head and neck cancer. Having one or more of these factors does not mean you will get cancer.

Risk factors for head and neck cancer

The most common risk factors for head and neck cancers in the past were related to the use of alcohol and tobacco. However, more cases have been seen in people with little to no history of drinking alcohol or smoking over the last few decades. Now, it appears that infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) is a more prominent risk factor.

You’re also more at risk of developing head and neck cancers if you:

  • Are older – your risk of getting head and neck cancers increases with age, with most cases diagnosed in people over the age of 50
  • Are male
  • Have lowered immunity, such as due to certain conditions or medications
  • Work with dust and certain chemicals
  • Have poor oral hygiene

Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer

  • A lump in the neck
  • Swelling around your ear, jawbone, neck, cheek or eyes
  • A sore throat or a feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Changes to your voice and speech
  • Red or white patches in the mouth that don’t go away
  • Breathing problems – such as a persistent blocked nose, noisy breathing or shortness of breath
  • Changes to your eating – pain or discomfort when swallowing or chewing, unexplained weight loss
  • Pain or numbness
  • Bleeding – in the mouth or nosebleeds
  • Difficulty hearing or an earache

It’s important to remember that your symptoms may be caused by other, non-cancerous conditions. If you think you display one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean you have head and neck cancer. You should see a doctor if you have any concerns.

Treatments for head and neck cancer

We offer the latest treatments for head and neck cancer including surgery, chemotherapy, advanced radiotherapy and innovative techniques such as photobiomodulation therapy.

Our highly experienced cancer experts work as teams to ensure that every patient can access world-class cancer care, within days of diagnosis. You’ll receive a complete personalised care plan that has been designed to support you physically and emotionally through your cancer journey. After all, we’re treating you – not just your cancer.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is when cells in your lung tissue become abnormal and grow at an uncontrollable rate to form a tumour. It is the third most common cancer type in the UK. Nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with it in the UK each year.

You may hear lung cancers being described as primary or secondary. Primary lung cancer is when the tumour started in your lung. There are three main types of primary lung cancer and they are categorised according to the type of cells the cancer developed in. They are:

  • Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC): The most common kind of lung cancer, accounting for nearly 90% of diagnoses. NSCLC’s can be further split into three types: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma
  • Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC): A more uncommon type of lung cancer. SCLC usually spreads quicker than NSCLC and is often diagnosed when it is at an advanced stage
  • Mesothelioma: This is a cancer that develops in the pleura – the lining of the lung. You’re more likely to develop mesothelioma if you’ve been exposed to asbestos

Secondary lung cancer is when cancer cells have spread (metastasised) to your lung from a cancer in another part of the body.

The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking. Around 85% of people who get lung cancer are either smokers or ex-smokers, and if you started smoking from a younger age your risk will be increased.

Research has shown that outdoor air pollution can also cause lung cancer. In the UK, almost 10% of lung cancer cases are caused by air pollution, but how this happens isn’t fully understood yet.

Risk factors for lung cancer

The likelihood of you developing lung cancer is much lower if you don’t smoke. However, you’re more at risk of getting lung cancer if you:

  • Are around other smokers (passive smoking)
  • Are older – although lung cancer can develop in people of any age, it’s more common in older people. Around 40% of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer are 75 or over
  • Are exposed to chemicals and substances (carcinogens) through work – such as arsenic, asbestos, coal, silica and nickel
  • Are exposed to radon gas – this is a naturally occurring gas that comes from soil, it may accumulate in buildings to unsafe levels in some parts of the UK
  • Have family members with lung cancer – it’s not known if this is because lung cancer can run in the family (an inherited gene) or shared risk factors
  • Have lowered immunity – your immune system could be weaker because of medication or if you have a condition such as HIV or AIDS
  • Have previously received radiotherapy to your chest to treat other cancers

There are often no noticeable symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, when the tumour is quite small. You may begin to develop some symptoms, including:

  • Coughing
  • Chest infections
  • Chest pains
  • Breathlessness – this can be during your daily activities or at rest
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • A hoarse voice
  • Blood in your phlegm or mucus

We offer the latest treatments for lung cancer including chemotherapy, advanced radiotherapy and organ-sparing techniques, such as deep inspiration breath hold, as standard.

Our highly experienced cancer experts work as teams to ensure that every patient can access world-class cancer care, within days of diagnosis. You’ll receive a complete personalised care plan that has been designed to support you physically and emotionally through your cancer journey. After all, we’re treating you – not just your cancer.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland become abnormal and grow at an uncontrolled rate. In some cases, the cancer grows too slowly to cause any major problems, but in others can grow quickly and need treatment to stop it spreading to the rest of the body.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer type found in men in the UK, with one out of six men getting it in their lifetime. The cancer commonly starts in the outer part of the gland, but it may develop in any of the prostate tissues.

Prostate cancer can be staged according to the size of the tumour and where the cancerous cells are found. There are three main types of prostate cancer that can be described through stages 1 to 4.

  • Early (localised) prostate cancer – Stages 1 and 2: Where the cancerous cells are only in the prostate
  • Locally advanced prostate cancer – Stage 3: Where the cancerous cells have started to spread to the outer capsule of the prostate gland and may be found in tissues nearby, such as the seminal vesicles
  • Advanced (metastatic) prostate cancer – Stage 4: Where the cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system

Causes of prostate cancer

The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, and this makes it difficult for doctors to determine who may or may not develop the condition. There are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of you developing prostate cancer. Having one or more of these factors does not mean you will develop a tumour.

Risk factors for prostate cancer

You’re more at risk of getting prostate cancer if you:

  • Are older – your risk increases with age, most cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 50
  • Have a family history of prostate cancer
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have different hormone levels – research shows men with higher levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer
  • Have black ethnicity

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

Early prostate cancer does not usually have any symptoms. You may start to notice some changes as the tumour grows bigger and starts to press on the urethra. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty in starting urination
  • Finding it hard to fully empty your bladder or feeling like your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
  • Weak urine flow
  • Leaking of urine, this might be just before or after you go to the toilet
  • Needing to urinate more often, particularly during the night
  • Sudden urges to urinate

You may display other symptoms that are associated with locally advanced and advanced prostate cancer. These can include:

  • Pain in your back, hip or pelvis
  • Difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Unexplained weight loss

Your prostate cancer symptoms may be caused by other, non-cancerous conditions such as prostate enlargement. If you think you display one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean you have prostate cancer. You should see a doctor if you have any concerns.

Treatments for prostate cancer

We offer the latest treatments for prostate cancer including chemotherapy, advanced radiotherapy and organ-sparing techniques such as deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) as standard.

Our highly experienced cancer experts work as teams to ensure that every patient can access world-class cancer care, within days of a diagnosis. You’ll receive a complete personalised care plan that has been designed to support you physically and emotionally through your cancer journey. After all, we’re treating you – not just your cancer.

The prostate gland is located underneath the bladder, around the urethra, and is about the shape and size of a walnut. It makes prostate fluid, one of the components of semen, and a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA).

Prostate cancer is usually slow growing. Most men without symptoms (low grade prostate cancer) can live for many years without it spreading and becoming life-threatening. As men live longer, prostate cancer can cause more problems. Treatment is often recommended to kill off cancerous cells before they spread. Early detection and careful monitoring and/or treatment are important.

Skin cancer

Skin cancer occurs when skin cells change into abnormal cells and grow at an uncontrolled rate.

Most skin cancers are caused by UV light damage from the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds. You also have a higher risk the more times you have had sunburn.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include:

  • Increased age – your risk increases with age
  • Have fair skin, blonde or red hair or blue eyes
  • Have lots of moles, freckles or birthmarks
  • Have a family history of melanoma
  • Have a certain medical conditions – such as a weakened immune system

There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma skin cancer (the type linked with moles) and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Melanoma starts in skin cells called melanocytes. It is less common than non-melanoma skin cancer but it is more dangerous.

Melanoma can develop from existing moles or as a new mole or patch of abnormal skin that may appear (70% of cases). This can happen anywhere on the body but usually in areas more exposed to the sun.

The most common sign of melanoma is a new mole or a change to an existing mole. It is useful to use ABCDE for melanoma warning signs on existing moles:

  • A – asymmetry – a healthy mole is usually round because it grows evenly, so an asymmetrical mole is a cause for concern
  • B – border – a rough or blurred border that isn’t clearly defined
  • C – colour – uneven colour of varying shade of pink and red or brown and black
  • D – diameter – melanomas are often larger than 6mm though not always and healthy moles can be larger
  • E – elevation or enlargement – the mole may grow, swell or become elevated or inflamed over time

The mole may also become itchy, bleed or crusty.

You should see a doctor if you notice a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, but it is mostly not life-threatening.

It starts in the top layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and is often related to sun exposure. There are two main types of non-melanoma skin cancer, depending on the type of skin cells affected, although it can be a mix of these types.

  • Basal cell carcinoma – the most common type which very rarely spreads to another part of the body
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – usually faster growing than basal cell carcinomas, and more likely to spread although it is still uncommon

Non-melanoma skin cancer usually appears gradually as a lump or patch of discoloured skin that persists for a few weeks. It can develop over months or years, with areas of abnormal but not yet cancerous cells (called pre-cancerous lesions) that may develop into cancerous cells over time.

You should see a doctor if you have any skin abnormality for over four weeks, such as a lump, ulcer, lesion or discolouration.

Non-melanoma skin cancer can occur on its own or within wider areas of pre-cancerous skin tissue containing abnormal cells that are at risk of developing into skin cancer – this is known as extensive skin field cancerisation.

Within this area of skin you may have rough patches called actinic keratosis caused by years of sun damage. Even though actinic keratosis is not cancerous, there’s a chance it may eventually turn into squamous cell cancer if the area isn’t treated. This means it’s important to treat it, as there’s a chance that squamous cell cancer can become an aggressive cancer that spreads throughout your body.

Frequently asked questions

Cancer is when cells in particular part of your body grow and multiply in an uncontrolled way. These cells can sometimes spread into other tissues of the body – this is known as metastasis.

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, your doctor will stage it to assess how large it is and how far it has grown. There are many different staging systems, however a common method is the number system:

  • Stage 0 – the cancer is contained where it started and hasn’t spread
  • Stage 1 – the cancer is small and hasn’t spread
  • Stage 2 – the cancer has grown but it hasn’t spread
  • Stage 3 – the cancer is large and may have spread to the surrounding lymph nodes or nearby tissues
  • Stage 4 – the cancer has spread to at least one other organ – this is known as metastatic cancer

The grade indicates how fast the cancer is growing. This is judged by what is looks like under a microscope and how different it looks from a normal cell. The most common grading system is:

  • Grade 1 – the cancer cells look like normal cells and aren’t growing quickly
  • Grade 2 – the cancer cells don’t look like normal cells and are growing faster than normal cells
  • Grade 3 – the cancer cells look abnormal and grow quickly, potentially spreading to other tissues more easily

We personalise care for you and your condition so it’s often a combination of therapies.

The main approaches to cancer care are:

  • Early detection and diagnosis is critical so cancers can be identified before they have spread elsewhere in the body and more easily treated
  • Surgery to remove tumours (at our partner hospitals)
  • Radiotherapy to target and destroy cancer cells and some difficult-to-reach tumours
  • Chemotherapy – a wide range of drug therapies that destroy specific cancer cells

New approaches include nuclear medicine and Theranostics – using radioactive substances to detect and treat cancers, often in a highly targeted way.

Alongside these treatments we also provide supportive care including wellbeing therapies and exercise medicine for all patients at many of our centres. Wellbeing therapies, including acupuncture, massage and counselling, are delivered through our partner the Penny Brohn UK charity to help support you through this challenging time. Exercise medicine is effective in improving treatment tolerance, building muscle mass and reducing cancer-related fatigue, among many other health-related benefits.

There are 200 different kinds of cancer. The major types are carcinoma, leukaemia, lymphoma, melanoma and sarcoma.

  • Carcinomas

The most commonly diagnosed cancers. They originate in organs and glands such as the skin, lungs, breasts and pancreas.

  • Leukaemia

Cancer of the blood, which does not usually form solid tumours.

  • Lymphomas

These are cancers of the lymphocytes (white blood cells).

  • Melanomas

Cancers arising in cells that make pigment in skin.

  • Sarcomas

These cancers originate in fat, blood vessels, bone, muscle, cartilage and other soft or connective tissues of the body. Sarcomas are relatively uncommon.

There are three different types of tumour: benign, premalignant and malignant.

  • Benign

These are not cancerous. They either grow or spread very slowly, or not at all. If removed they generally do not return.

  • Premalignant

The cells in these tumours are not yet cancerous but have the potential to become malignant.

  • Malignant

Cancerous tumours. The cells of malignant tumours can grow and spread to other parts of the body.

Any changes to your body’s usual processes or unexplained symptoms can sometimes be a sign of cancer and should be investigated by a doctor. In many cases, the cause won’t be cancer and may be due to other conditions.

Some common signs and symptoms are below, but this is not an exhaustive list. If you notice anything different about your body or anything that isn’t going away, it’s important to get it checked – don’t assume it’s due to natural aging or another condition you may have.

  • A lump anywhere in your body
  • Changes in bowel habits that have lasted for more than a few weeks – diarrhoea, constipation, blood in your stools, pain, bloating or not feeling like you’ve fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Unexplained bleeding – in your urine, in your stools or from your bottom, when you cough, in vomit or between periods
  • Unexplained weight loss that can’t be explained by diet, exercise or stress
  • Moles – can be a sign of some skin cancers
  • A persistent cough for more than three weeks ­– shortness of breath and chest pain can also be a sign but are also a sign of an infection, such as pneumonia, and should be investigated by a doctor straight away

Many cancers develop with no exact cause and a most likely due to a combination of factors. There are risk factors that can increase your chance of developing a cancer.

There are lifestyle risk factors that can be avoided or adjusted to reduce your risk:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Sun and UV tanning

Some things you can’t control such as aging or a family history of certain cancers can increase your risk.

Other risk factors include:

  • Workplace or environmental factors – asbestos, certain industrial chemicals or natural gases
  • Having low immunity can make you more at risk to certain cancers
  • Some viruses and bacteria are linked to a higher risk of cancer

Different cancers affect your body in different ways, depending where they are growing and how advanced they are. Cancer can cause changes in your body and stop some processes from working as well as they should.

  • Blood system – some cancers can change the number of blood cells circulating in the blood
  • Lymphatic system – cancer cells can get trapped in lymph nodes near the cancer and begin to grow there
  • Immune system – some cancers can weaken the immune system
  • Hormone system – some cancers can effect the level of hormones in the body causing symptoms

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

+44 (0)121 514 1185

Bristol

300 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Bristol, BS32 4SY

+44 (0)1454 642801

Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

+44 (0)1245 676 351

Cromwell Hospital

164-178 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0TU, UK

+44 (0)203 613 9355

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Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

+44 (0)203 613 9356

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Fordham Rd, Newmarket CB8 7XN, UK

+44 (0)1223 633 664

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BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

+44 (0)1483 676 898

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17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

+44 (0)1732 386 599

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Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

+44 (0)1908 448 166

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The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

+44 (0)1156 762 989

Oxford

Peters Way, Sandy Lane West, Oxford, OX4 6LB

+44 (0)1865 224 884

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Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

+44 (0)23 9280 0102

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Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

+44 (0)238 008 5138

Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

+44 (0)1753 465 493