One in three people in the UK will develop cancer at some stage in their life and it is more common in later life. However, 4 in 10 cancers are preventable and you can take action by becoming more aware of your body and changes that take place, and by undertaking screening that is available.
Types of Cancer
We have listed below some of the most common types of cancer in the UK:
- Blood cancers
- Bowel cancer (also known as colon cancer)
- Breast cancer (in men as well as in women)
- Cervical cancer
- Lung cancer
- Mouth cancer
- Oesophageal & Stomach cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
- Testicular cancer
The organisations we have mentioned in the box on the right will provide you with more information about symptoms and treatments. Always consult your GP if you are worried.
Ways to Help Prevent Cancer
It is important to remember that the success rate for the treatment of cancer is increasing all of the time, however, it is still a very good idea to take preventative measures wherever possible. This will lower your risk of ever developing the disease, or will increase the chances of catching it in its early stages when treatment can be more effective.
- Diet – It is believed that the foods we eat are responsible for up to a third of deaths from cancer. Red or processed meat is linked with certain cancers, whereas having a healthy diet high in fibre with plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
- Lifestyle – Giving up smoking is the best way to reduce your risk of cancer. Staying out of the sun or using sunscreen as much as possible is also very important. Never use a sun bed and cut down your alcohol intake. Minimise HRT use and avoid harmful substances such as asbestos, and unnecessary radon gas and x-rays.
- Exercise – Maintaining a healthy body weight through keeping physically active can reduce the risk of cancers such as of the breast, bowel and kidney.
- Pay attention to your body – if you develop new or persistent symptoms, for example, unexplained weight loss, a persistent cough, unexplained pain or swelling, or persistent heartburn it may be time to visit your GP. It may be nothing to worry about but it is best to check.
- Self-examination – Checking your body for early signs of cancer such as lumps could be a lifesaver.
- Attend screening programmes – each programme is specific and enables early detection and treatment of cancer.
It is advisable to take advantage of the screening programmes that the NHS provides. These are:
Bowel Cancer Screening
NHS bowel scope screening is a new test to help prevent bowel cancer. It does this by finding and removing any small growths, called polyps, in the bowel that could eventually turn into cancer. This service is offered to men and women aged 55 years. If you don’t take it up at 55 years, you can do so before you are 60 years. It is only offered once within the 5 year period.
Men and women between the ages of 60 and 74 are sent a home test kit which is used to collect a stool sample every two years. If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for this test by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
The test results normally take around two weeks. If you receive an abnormal result, you will be referred for further investigation but this does not necessarily mean that you have cancer.
Visit NHS.UK bowel cancer overview for more information.
Breast Cancer Screening
This programme offers screening every 3 years to all women aged over 50 years old. If you are aged 70 years old or over, you will not automatically be invited for breast screening but you do have the right to be screened every 3 years if you ask. Some women are now invited from the age of 47 years. Screening includes a mammogram and may be followed by an ultrasound and/or biopsy if necessary. If you have found a lump, then your GP may refer you to a fast track/one stop breast screening service.
All enquiries should be made to the Breast Screening Team at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Visit NHS.UK breast cancer Screening overview for more information.
Cervical Cancer Screening
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 25 to 64 to attend cervical screening. Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every 3 years and those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every 5 years. If you are sexually active then you should continue your screening as some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are linked to cervical cancer.
Visit NHS.UK cervical cancer overview for more information.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Men over 50 years can ask for a PSA test. The PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test measures the level of PSA in your blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate gland, which naturally leaks into the bloodstream. A raised PSA may be an early indication of prostate cancer, however other conditions (like enlargement of the prostate, prostatitis and urinary infection) can also cause a rise in PSA.
Your GP can organise a PSA test for you if you have symptoms of prostate disease. Men with early prostate cancer may not have any symptoms as these only occur when the cancer is large enough to put pressure on the urethra or disturb bladder function.
Visit NHS.UK prostate cancer overview for more information.
Local Information and Advice
If you, or someone close to you, has been diagnosed with cancer, there are places you can go for advice and support.
Coping with Cancer North East offer a variety of services, all free of charge, at different venues in the North East, including complementary therapy, counselling, palliative care and drop in and support groups.
Fighting All Cancers Together (FACT) aims to source, promote, and form relationships between the support services, and oganisations available to cancer patients.
HeadStrong – Breast Cancer Care is a partnership between Marie Curie and Breast Cancer Care. They can help you to cope with hair loss by offering you tips on hair and scalp care for before, during and after treatment. They can also offer you the chance to experiment with scarves, hats and hairpieces in a comfortable and private environment.
Lifespan is a local charity which brings ease and support to people with serious and life-threatening illness, and to the family members and friends who care for them.
Look Good … Feel Better is a charity that offers free makeovers to women with cancer. They report that patients who go to their workshops have stronger self-esteem and enhanced moods after they’ve indulged in some ‘me time’, as being pampered can have a positive effect on your health.
Macmillan One to One Support Service is for people with cancer who need support and advice on a one-to-one basis following hospital treatment. It offers support and advice on many issues to improve quality of life including:
- Managing the symptoms and long term side effects of cancer treatment including fatigue, breathlessness, bowel problems, pain, anxiety and low mood
- Making sure you are aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer recurrence and when to access medical help – Feeling well and keeping active
- Helping you to manage your illness yourself
- Making sure you are aware of services that can help you
Macmillan Cancer Information Centre has a well-stocked library of leaflets and booklets and internet access for patients and carers. The centre offers a drop in service to anyone affected by cancer.
Maggie’s Newcastle offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. Services include:
- practical advice about benefits, hair loss and eating well
- qualified professionals to provide emotional support
- group classes and activities
- garden and kitchen
Other Useful Information
- Cancer section of the BBC website
- Newcastle Libraries have a number of books available to borrow relating to cancer. These books have been reviewed and recommended by Macmillan Cancer Support, so you can be assured that the information contained within them can be trusted.
- The Patient Information Centre offers a range of health related information including;
- medical conditions
- procedures and treatments
- details about self help and support groups
- information about complaints procedures
- copies of leaflets
Cancer Discussion Forums
- Cancer Chat – Cancer Research UK’s forum
- My Macmillan – Macmillan Cancer Support’s online community
Please note – The content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you are feeling unwell, make an appointment to see your GP or contact NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999.
Last updated: November 7, 2018