Normally, cells divide in an orderly and controlled way, but if for some reason the process gets out of control, the cells carry on dividing. In many cases these cells develop into a lump called a tumour. Tumours are either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Doctors can tell if a tumour is benign or malignant by removing a piece of tissue (biopsy) and examining a small sample of cells under a microscope.
In a benign tumour, the cells do not spread to other parts of the body and so are not cancerous. However, they may carry on growing at the original site, and may cause a problem by pressing on surrounding organs.
In a malignant tumour, the cancer cells have the ability to spread beyond the original area of the body. If the tumour is left untreated, it may spread into surrounding tissue.
Cancer can occur in different parts of the body – there are more than 200 different types of cancer, each with its own name and treatment. Cancer can occur in organs of the body such as the kidney or the brain. These are sometimes called solid tumours.
The types of cancers that occur most often in children are different from those seen in adults.
Sometimes cells break away from the original (primary) cancer. They may spread to other organs in the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. When the cancer cells reach a new area they may go on dividing and form a new tumour. This is known as a secondary cancer or a metastasis.
Cancer can also occur in the blood cells in the bone marrow (leukaemia) or in the lymphatic system (lymphoma).
This information was written by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG). For more information, click here.
Meet Uttam – just one of the 662 children as part of our ‘Closing the Cancer Gap’ appeal, including matched funding from the UK Government.Read more
Discover Alile’s journey through cancer as recounted by her mother, from the initial symptoms to diagnosis and treatment.Read more
We first met Naa in 2016 when she was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumour at 7 years old. In 2021 the cancer returned and Naa underwent treatment again. She has battled cancer twice and is now back in school.Read more
We first met Joseph in 2019 after he was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Find out more how he is doing after his successful treatment.Read more
Kayin was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. He is now working as a carpenter and is feeling happy and strong.Read more
Read more about our catch-up with Rebecca after undergoing cancer treatment through World Child Cancer in Ghana six years ago.Read more
14-year-old Hassan from the Machinga district of Malawi was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) last year.Read more
Five years after developing cancer and two years of treatment later, six-year-old Tiwo is doing wellRead more
Meet Franklyn, now 17, who is fully recovered from cancer and dreams of becoming a doctor to help othersRead more
Rebecca is now able to return to school after undergoing cancer treatment through World Child Cancer in GhanaRead more
Prince went on to become a childhood cancer advocate and help many other children just like him when he recovered from leukaemia. Read MoreRead more
Meet Estaphanie, who is excited to start university after being forced to take time out of school following a cancer diagnosisRead more
Bulu is looking forward to following in his brother’s footsteps getting back on the football fieldRead more
Oscar was six years old when his mother noticed a swelling on his tummy and took him to a traditional village doctorRead more
Together we can close the gap in childhood cancer care.