Did you know that 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime? And that 4 in 10 (42%) of cancer cases in the UK each year are linked to lifestyle factors, with smoking being the largest single preventable cause of cancer each year?*
What is cancer?
The NHS Health A-Z website defines cancer as 'a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably, destroying surrounding healthy tissue, including organs'.
The four most common types of cancer include:
but there are more than 200 other types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way.
Signs and symptoms
Changes to your body's normal processes or unusual, unexplained symptoms can sometimes be an early sign of cancer.
Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor include:
- a lump that suddenly appears on your body
- unexplained bleeding
- changes to your bowel habits
But in many cases your symptoms will not be related to cancer and will be caused by other, non-cancerous health conditions.
If you display symptoms which may be caused by cancer, your GP will ask for you to have an urgent hospital appointment or test within two weeks.
The two week appointment system was introduced across the country so that patients with cancer symptoms could be seen by a specialist quickly. The majority of patients referred under this system turn out NOT to be diagnosed with cancer, but early diagnosis can increase the success rate of many cancer treatments.
A leaflet given to those who are referred under the system can be read by clicking here.
Reducing your risk
Making some simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer.
The Macmillan Cancer Support website has more information about how a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your chances of developing cancer.
There are a number of awareness campaigns to help people understand the signs and symptoms of cancer so you can get medical advice as soon as possible, including:
To find a local cancer support service, click here.
*Cancer Research UK have produced a number of cancer statistics on their website.