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1. Understanding your diagnosis

Cancer is a broad term used to describe diseases in which cells grow and spread around the body in an uncontrolled way and crowd out normal cells. However, not all cancer is the same. There are over 200 different types of cancer. Each type has different rates of growth, symptoms, treatments and prognoses. Some can be cured, others can be controlled and/or their symptoms managed.

The shock that usually accompanies a diagnosis can make it difficult to take in the information your doctor gives you. Many people find that after being given their diagnosis, having a confidential chat with a nurse on the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 is helpful. These nurses have a background in oncology and can help you understand what your doctor has told you. They will not be able to make personal recommendations about your medical care, but will be able to provide you with general information about your condition, treatments and support services. They can also help you to work out important questions to ask your doctors. Often the fear of the unknown is very worrying, so if you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask.