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Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the UK. One in two people born in the UK after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. Anyone can develop cancer, but it becomes more common as we get older.
Your risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics and lifestyle but in some cases, the exact cause is difficult to determine. However, it is well known that two in five cancer cases in the UK each year are preventable and are linked to lifestyle factors.
Nationally, smoking is the single largest cause of cancer and nationally is responsible for nearly 20% of cancer cases. In Bradford this statistic is even higher as more than one in five of the local population are smokers. Drinking too much alcohol and being overweight is also linked to 10% of cancer cases.
Spotting cancer early will improve your survival rate, so it’s important that you recognise the signs and act. One of the best things that you can do is remember to go along for screening when you are recalled by your GP practice - it is one of the most effective ways to identify any early signs of cancer.
There are three main types of cancer screening – cervical, breast and bowel. Attending your regular cancer screening when recalled by your GP is vitally important to pick up any abnormal cell changes. The earlier any potential signs of cancer are detected, the quicker you can be diagnosed and treated – which is proven to lead to better outcomes. For more information about cancer screening, please visit the NHS Choices website.
Reducing your risk of cancer
Up to 40% of cancers in the UK could be prevented by making lifestyle changes. There are some small changes that you can make to your lifestyle which can drastically reduce your risk of being diagnosed with cancer. These include:
- stopping smoking
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- reducing your alcohol intake
- keeping physically active, and,
- reducing your time in the sun.
What are the signs of cancer?
It is always important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body. Symptoms are often caused by non-cancerous illness but it is important to go and see your GP so that they can investigate.
There are some common signs and symptoms of cancer that you can look out for, such as unusual lumps and swelling, changes in your body’s habits and unexplained weight loss. Detailed information on the signs of cancer can be found on the NHS Choices website.
Having symptoms does not mean that you have cancer. However, it is important to see your GP if you have any symptoms. If cancer is diagnosed early, your chances of survival are much higher than if you are diagnosed late.
Cancer support services
- Bradford Cancer Support - an independent charity with centres in Bradford and Skipton. The charity provides practical and emotional support to those affected by a cancer diagnosis. The centre in Bradford is located near Bradford Royal Infirmary. You can call the centre on 01274 77 66 88 or visit the Bradford Cancer Support website for more information.
- Cancer Research UK is a national charity who aims to beat cancer sooner through research. The Cancer Research website has lots of information on the different types of cancer as well as advice on coping with cancer.
- Macmillan is a national charity who can support you and your loved ones, from the point of diagnosis through to treatment and beyond. There are lots of resources on the MacMillan website to help and support both patients and carers. Macmillan also supports more than 900 independent groups and organisations across the country. By joining a support group you can spend time with people who share or understand your experience. You can search for local support groups near you on the MacMillan website.