Cancer FAQs

What is cancer?

There are over 200 different types of known cancer. There is no single explanation for cancer, as each type of cancer has its own unique symptoms and treatment.

In broad terms, cancer is caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body, which can cause a cancerous tumour or growth to develop.

Cancer symptoms can vary widely, and detailed information on common cancer symptoms is provided by Macmillan Cancer Support here.

At BMI Healthcare we offer extensive cancer treatment services for many types of cancer. Read on to find additional information on our services and what to expect during treatment.

What types of cancer are treated at BMI Healthcare?

BMI Healthcare offer treatment for many types of cancer including those listed below:

If you can't find the cancer type you are looking for please click here to complete an online enquiry form or call 0800 157 7747 to speak with one of our Cancer Care enquiries team who will be able to tell you more about the treatment options at your local BMI Healthcare hospital.

What kinds of cancer treatments are available?

At BMI Healthcare we offer a range of comprehensive cancer treatments and cancer care. Many of our 60 hospitals across the UK provide cancer treatment services, with the following eight specialist cancer centres offering advanced services:

Our cancer centres offer the full end to end cancer pathway from screening and diagnosis, to surgery, to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.*

In addition, our Cancer Centres offer:

  • Specialist cancer facilities
  • Dedicated chemotherapy suites
  • Access to patient support groups and counselling
  • Complementary therapies

*Radiotherapy provision is offered through partnerships with Cancer Partners UK on-site both at BMI Mount Alvernia and BMI The Park Hospitals, or locally (with the NHS).

Do BMI Healthcare’s medical teams include cancer specialists?

Yes. Our cancer specialist teams include: specialist consultant surgeons, oncologists and radiologists, cancer care nurses, palliative care specialists, oncology pharmacists, oncology physiotherapists, complementary therapists, dieticians as well as other allied health professionals.

What are BMI Breast Screening Clinics?

At BMI Healthcare, we offer specialised breast screening at our breast clinics across the country. The more common screening methods include mammography and ultrasound. Our specialists are highly experienced therefore you will get expert advice and excellent care, with your test results generally delivered within 48 hours. The clinics are suitable for women who have concerns about their breast health and who may have symptoms, women who are not eligible for the NH breast screening programme or women who would like a more regular breast screen than offered on the NHS. Your GP can refer you to a BMI Healthcare breast screening clinic or many of our consultants accept self-referrals. The suitability of screening methods will be decided by your GP or consultant.

How will my cancer be diagnosed?

The method of cancer diagnosis very much depends on the stage and type of cancer that a patient has. Potential diagnosis methods include CT scanning, MRI scanning, PET scanning, X-ray, mammography, ultrasound and blood tests. During your consultation, your consultant will discuss your diagnostic options in detail.

How often will I need cancer treatment?

The cancer treatment you require will depend upon your unique circumstances. The type and stage of the cancer will play a major role in your treatment plan. During your consultations, your consultant will provide you with an outline of your course of treatment and an estimation of how long this will take. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have regarding your treatment.

How does chemotherapy work?

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to combat cancerous cells. It is a common cancer treatment and may be combined with other treatments – such as hormone therapy or radiotherapy. For a more detailed description of chemotherapy and what’s involved in the treatment browse our chemotherapy page.

How many sessions of chemotherapy will I need?

The number of chemotherapy sessions you will need will depend upon your unique diagnosis. Some patients will have a high number of treatments while others may only need a couple of sessions. Your consultant will discuss with you exactly what is required for treatment, and what to expect during and after it.

What are the side effects of chemotherapy?

Side effects of chemotherapy can vary from patient to patient. Common chemotherapy side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Bleeding gums or nose
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Chest pain
  • A high temperature
  • An increase in bowel movements
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergic reaction
  • Interaction with other medication
  • Rash
  • Sore hands & feet
  • Laryngeal spasms
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Changes in heart beat

Your consultant will discuss these possible side effects with you and provide you with advice on how best to cope with them.

How does radiotherapy work?

Radiotherapy works by using high energy X-rays to combat cancerous cells. It is a common cancer treatment and may be combined with other treatments – such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy. For a more detailed description of radiotherapy and what to expect with your treatment see here.

How much radiotherapy will I need?

As with chemotherapy, how much radiotherapy you require depends on the stage and type of cancer you have. Your consultant will prescribe a course of treatment specific to you.

What are the side effects of radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy side effects can vary. However, common radiotherapy side effects include:

  • Sensitive and or sore skin
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Physical stiffness

Your consultant will discuss with you the possible side effects and provide you with advice on how to best deal with them.

Can my family and friends come with me to my appointments and treatment sessions?

Friends and family play a vital part in your cancer journey. They are welcome to accompany you during your consultations, chemotherapy or radiotherapy sessions* and be with you before you go in for surgery. We also offer flexible visiting hours, so they will be able to visit you during your recovery.

*For safety reasons children are not able to attend during chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is an area of healthcare that aims to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with serious or life-threatening illness, including cancer.

Palliative care focuses on addressing the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social concerns that arise with advanced illness.  This can help to relieve the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness — whatever the prognosis.

Our specialist palliative care consultants are highly experienced in providing:

  • Measures to enhance quality of life
  • Relief from pain, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath and other distressing symptoms which can be associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Psychological support
  • Support systems to help patients lead as active and fulfilling a life as is possible and to help families cope

What aftercare treatment is available?

Once you have completed your cancer treatment, we will continue to support you in your recovery. Aftercare available includes follow-up appointments, physiotherapy, support groups, counselling exercise classes and well living programmes, and complementary therapies.

Complementary therapies can add a valuable holistic approach to your recovery. These therapies can include acupuncture, homeopathy, Reiki and nutritional therapy. Your nurse will provide you with information about these therapies and their potential benefits.

We also offer advice on bras for breast cancer patients for example, and wig provision following hair loss. Or if you simply would like a chat and a cup of tea, our nurses are on standby for their patients.