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Carcinogens are things that are known to cause cancer. Common carcinogens that can cause disease include tobacco smoke and ultraviolet rays. Exposure to carcinogens doesn’t always cause cancer. Your risk of developing cancer depends on factors such as genetics, the frequency of exposure to the carcinogen and the method of exposure.




Carcinomas are cancers that develop in the skin, or in the tissues that surround the internal organs. Carcinomas are the most common form of cancer.


Carcinoma in situ

If you are diagnosed with a carcinoma in situ, the abnormal cells that cause cancer cells within your body are only found in one area of the body and haven’t spread. Described as Stage 0 cancer, the cells could develop into cancer if left untreated.



Cells are described as the building blocks of life. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. They provide our structure and convert food into energy. Cells hold our genetic code and can make copies of themselves.




During chemotherapy, powerful medicines target and kill cancer cells within the body.

There are a variety of chemotherapy medicines available, including oral and intravenous medication. All chemotherapy medicines stop cancer cells from reproducing, which prevents them from growing and spreading in the body.


Circulating free DNA

Circulating free DNA are fragments of DNA that have entered the bloodstream. Circulating free DNA may or may not come from cancerous tumours.


Circulating tumour cells

Circulating tumour DNA

Circulating tumour DNA are fragments of DNA from a cancerous tumour that has entered the bloodstream and is circulating around the body.



DNA is the hereditary material inside humans that contains information on how cells function, including how they grow and divide. Cancer is caused by a disruption to our DNA, causing cells to grow abnormally. Changes to our DNA can be caused by genetics, exposure to carcinogens or in some cases, entirely by chance.


Early-stage cancer

Early-stage cancer is a form of the disease that has been diagnosed early in its development. The condition may not have spread to other parts of the body. The definition of ‘early-stage’ differs according to specific cancers.


Endocrine therapy

Endocrine therapy is an alternative term for hormone therapy.


False-positive test result

A false-positive test is one that says you have a disease or condition that you don’t. No scientific test is perfect. Sometimes your clinician or medical team may mistakenly diagnose cancer. In most cases, clinicians won’t rely on a single test to diagnose cancer but will carry out a variety of tests to confirm a diagnosis of cancer.


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