With more information at our fingertips today than our brains can possibly process, it’s no surprise that many of us consult “Dr Google” about our ailments. And according to experts from Google, the health question people in the UK asked most in 2017 was: What is cancer?
Cancer rates continue to climb. Today 1 in 2 of us in the UK will be diagnosed at some point in our lives. So it makes sense that people want to know more about a topic that will undoubtedly touch all of us in one way or another. And although the internet can be a useful source of information, if people have symptoms they’re worried about then they should visit their GP for advice. But with the internet being so easily accessible, it’s no surprise that people are also seeking answers online.
So what were people presented with when they tapped those three words into their keyboards? A staggering 26,000,000 results. That’s an overwhelming amount of information.
Thankfully, those asking the question don’t have to browse far to find decent answers. Cancer Research UK sits among the top results, with a website dedicated to bringing readers the most accurate and up to date evidence-based information on the subject, from trials and treatments to pages sorting fact from fiction.
When it comes to health, gathering information from reliable, easy to understand sources such as this is critical. Choices regarding health and medicine can have profound impacts on a person’s life and wellbeing. So these decisions should be based on the best available evidence. Unfortunately, there are far too many websites that don’t offer this.
Search the internet for long enough and soon you’ll be enveloped in conspiracy theories and quack ideas about the supposed causes of and cures for cancer. These can look very convincing at first glance, too. For example, some websites claim that cancer is a disease caused by eating an overly ‘acidic’ diet, and therefore eating what’s claimed to be healthier so-called ‘alkaline’ foods can cure people.
This unfounded idea, alongside many others, has been thoroughly debunked.
So, what really is cancer?
The word ‘cancer’ may be singular, but it reflects much more than just one disease. More accurately, it’s a term spanning hundreds of diseases. They all share a fundamental characteristic though: rogue cells growing out of control, overcrowding healthy tissues. Another defining feature is that cancers are caused by faulty DNA, allowing cells’ control systems to go haywire and permit this unregulated division.
While different types of cancer may share similarities, research is showing that each person’s individual cancer is unique and presents its own set of challenges. That’s why it’s extremely unlikely that there will be one single cure against all cancers. This means researchers have their work cut out to thwart these diseases. But that isn’t reason to give up hope. Far from it.
Thanks to research, many cancers can already be cured. Testicular cancer for example is very sensitive to chemotherapy drugs, and most cases can be cured.
Today, survival for testicular cancer is as high as 98%, and that’s just one example among many others.
More research will give us a greater chance of developing new ways to treat and cure more people’s cancer. And also a greater understanding of cancer in all its forms. So while we may have a textbook definition of cancer, there is much still to be learned about this complex disease. That’s why Cancer Research UK exists, and why we won’t stop until we reach the day that all cancers can be cured.
If anyone has questions about cancer they can call our dedicated nurses helpline, free phone 0808 800 4040, or email [email protected] for questions about cancer science.
Diane Fee March 11, 2018
Going in for a full hysterectomy on 3rd April for tumour in right overie
Margaret Greenwood March 10, 2018
It’s interesting to read when you have had cancer still need more research in it yet
Kathleen Southall March 7, 2018
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1980. I had a mastectomy followed by chemo therapy. I sometimes wonder – did I really have cancer ?
Alison February 18, 2018
We so need a cure for this dreadful disease. My partner is battling with Sarcoma cancer and is about to undergo a second lot of chemotherapy. It is evil and ruins your life . The pain it gives him is unbearable and ruins the quality of life.
william richmond February 18, 2018
I have had metastatic NSCCL since early 2017 and never screened for Ca lung.I have NEVER smoked.chemo courses x2 have failed miserably! XRT has been effective controlling pain for boney metastases.still the disease progresses.It is time more money by the NHS was spent on screening for this killer disease of young and old…see previous BBC article and that more research monies were allocated.
Les Barker February 18, 2018
The way my local hospital has treated myself as an elderly 85 year old prostrate cancer patient is terrible I have been just left to get on with it with no support, help advice or follow-up. since diagnosed two and a half years ago. I was placed on watchful waiting. I am doing the waiting but no one seems to be doing the watching?
Alison February 18, 2018
Why cancer it take people who we love a way
Irene Bridgwood February 17, 2018
Hi I had throat cancer the same as James Burr. Chemo and 30 sessions of radiotherapy. Finished my treatment 14mths ago. Issues still with no saliva but taste buds so much better now. The peg feed wasn’t great but kept me alive. Just glad to be alive. My partner and I both donate without your research I probably would not be here now. Thank you
amar February 17, 2018
i am new research in cancer drug
AK February 17, 2018
As a breast cancer survivor and battling metastasis to the lungs now I am really grateful for all the work and research done to find new treatments to make cancer not so dreaded word any more
Audrey Yule February 16, 2018
Nothing makes me feel better about the C word. I don’t have it my mum or dad hasn’t had/doesn’t have it but I am terrified of it. I had an abnormal smear test about 14 years ago and had colposcopy treatment. Since then, I live every day with the fear on getting it. I plague the doctor with appointments because anything I feel isn’t right I think is it. I pray to God every night that I don’t get it. I can’t watch tv programmes which feature it. The fear of it has ruined my life, my marriage, my sons childhood. I’ve been to numerous professionals who sign me off because they can’t help me. I am sitting typing this with tears in my eyes because it scares me that much. I donate but don’t usually read any emails because it makes me feel physically sick.
In saying that WELL DONE to the all the people who are fighters in the world and have won their battle. God Bless you, your family and your friends.
Dee February 16, 2018
I had lung cancer which resulted in having over half of my left lung removed along with three ribs. I had chemotherapy followed by radical radiotherapy. I am now approaching five years and the long awaited ‘all clear’. Not that long ago, there was little could be done for lung cancer but thanks to cancer research, I’m still here and feeling very lucky and extremely grateful. Thank you so much and keep finding out more about this awful disease.
Dawn hitchman February 16, 2018
That has opened my eyes into why I may have got cancer and exactly what it is so thankyou
David February 16, 2018
A clear to understand article. Give us more on specific cancers
angela Jones February 16, 2018
Horrible Nasty Cruel disease. When I was told I had a brain tumour after a little chat was sent home to wait for news. No information on this. No number to phone. Nothing at all. That was the worst
sylvia cafferkey February 16, 2018
THank you explains clearly and to the point.
James Burr February 16, 2018
I had chemotherapy and 30 session of radiotherapy for a cancer tumer in my neck, l was kept in Christies for 3 weeks because of my failing health, and was fed through a tube in my stomach, that was 2 years ago, l still have issues with my mouth and throat, l will never forget what Christies staff did for me, l have supported cancer research for over twenty years and will continue to go so as long as l live, l have raised over £5,500 for cancer, cancer research are doing a fantastic job and with support we will beat cancer together.
Christina Chetwynd February 15, 2018
My husband had Cancer of the Oesophaus at the age of 79. He was successfully operated and we will be celebrating 2nd Anniversary of his surgery in 3 days time. Thanks to Cancer research who is doing a wonderful job and I am so grateful that the successful surgery of my husband has given him his life back. He is free of cancer now and doing well. I have been a Cancer supporter for 34 years now and will continue to support as long as there is life in me.
Christina Chetwynd February 15, 2018
I totally agree about the information available these days on the internet, which is mind blowing. Concerned people should see their GP and not read up the information on the internet and worry themselves sick.
Frank Upton February 15, 2018
Thank you for this
Mary Rensten February 15, 2018
Although cancer, in any form, is a dreaded disease, the great work done by Cancer Research UK and other institutions gives us all hope, especially where there is cancer in the family, that one day there WILL BE a cure for all types.
Lesley Ann Baeten February 15, 2018
I have had cancer 5 times..different parts of my body..but your explanation is easy to understand..keep trying to find a cure for this terrible disease..I am positive you will..thank you.
Dennis February 15, 2018
I am sure that if everyone that works and has a wage, gave just £1 per week, every week (or equivalent) then cures for Cancer’s would be more forthcoming.
Janice Connor February 15, 2018
As a breast cancer survivor I appreciate the great work Cancer research does although it’s still the most feared word!! The headway that’s happening is really great and hopefully one day there will be a “Cure “ for all cancers
Chris February 15, 2018
I wish we could have eg enjection to prevent any cancer attacking us.