Think of a tumour like a rapidly growing city within a patient's body. Doctors can scan the patient to locate the tumour, much like a satellite can scan the earth and map its cities. And scientists can get a sense of the tumour at 'street level' by looking at its communities of cells through tissue samples and gene-sequencing technology.
One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime, which is why I think this cause resonates with everyone. In a short amount of time Stand Up To Cancer has established itself in the hearts, minds and televisions of people across the UK and I can't wait to see where the future takes us.
So the madness of Christmas is nearly upon us, and it's hard to believe just how much has happened since this time last year! While everybody else was running around in the usual Christmas mayhem, I was sitting in a hospital gown, having blood tests, x-rays, scans and then a biopsy to find out if the lumps in my neck were in fact Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Research by World Cancer Research Fund shows that drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of several cancers: bowel, breast, mouth and throat, oesophageal, stomach and liver. In the UK, 21,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year if nobody drank alcohol, but how does alcohol actually interact with us to cause such a drastic effect?
The trouble with treating rare cancers is in the name. They are rare. Scientists need to be able to study the cancer to find out how to beat it. And then they need to test new treatments on enough people to find out if it works. If a cancer that has just a few hundred cases a year, this makes it rather difficult to tackle.
Stem cell transplants are amazing because they can cure life-threatening illnesses, but the transplant is only the first step of the journey to recovery. There's still more we can do to increase the success rate of transplants, and reduce the number of people who experience post-transplant complications so that they can have the best possible quality of life.
A new report just published by Macmillan Cancer Support sheds new light on the large numbers of people living long-term with cancer but evidence has also come to light that the public may be being misled about our progress in beating cancer and that progress is almost certainly not as good as that implied by the much touted cancer survival statistics.
Here's my beef with the changes I see in cancer research funding: I worry that many funding bodies now seem to require increasing levels of certainty before investing. They want a mountain of preliminary data, alongside the usual research proposal and they want predictions of how the research will make a difference.
The 4th February 2016 was World Cancer Day - a day to reflect on how cancer impacts our lives. I'm sure that many of us, including me, will be thinking about loved ones we've lost or who are living with cancer right now, but it's also a time to think about what we could do to bring forward the day when we no longer live in fear of cancer.