person enjoying balloon ride after preventing cancer!
Preventing Cancers – what are your risks?
1 in 2 people will develop cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the 4 most common types of cancer are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer. So suggest, whether man or woman, you go for screening for 3 different common types of cancer.
Prevent almost 1 in 2 cancers by taking action to avoid your personal cancer risks. Also, cancer deaths can be reduced by early detection of cancers and then the right treatments [WHO, 2020]. New cancer services in the UK include:
1. New NHS bowel cancer screening is being rolled out from April 2021, to all men and women in England aged 50-74, using a new easier ‘FIT home testing kit‘ every two years. If you are age 75 +, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free NHS bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. This video shows you how to use the FIT bowel cancer testing kit at home.
More about the bowel cancer ‘FIT test‘; and how to use it is available to download in 10 different languages.
2. The UK NHS Cervical Screening Programme has introduced human papillomavirus (HPV) as the primary screening test in England. Screening for high-risk strains of the virus means it can be monitored and any cell changes can be spotted early on. All 12 and 13-year-olds in school Year 8 are offered the HPV vaccine on the NHS. This programme could eliminate cervical cancer completely, says the NHS.
3. Most cases of prostate cancer develop in men aged 50 or older. Most UK men are now offered a ‘multiparametric MRI scan’ before a biopsy to help avoid unnecessary tests. Also, men over 50 can ask their doctor for a PSA blood test.
4. Making some simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancers. This means healthier eating and drinking, regular exercise, and not smoking. So 2 in every 3 colorectal and bowel cancers, and 1 in 4 breast cancers, can be prevented by changing your lifestyle .
5. New UK NHS genetic cancer testing helps you find out your risks. Predictive genome tests are a powerful early-warning tool for cancer.
6. With a huge backlog in the number of people needing referrals, it is important to know when a ‘health niggle’ is worth pursuing. Here are a few common cancer symptoms that are probably nothing, but should never be ignored.
6.1 Going to the toilet more
Making more — or fewer — trips to the toilet than usual, or a change in what comes out, could be a concern. Check for blood in your poo before you flush. Also watch out for abdominal pain, constipation or looser stools. These symptoms of bowel cancer are easily confused with irritable bowel syndrome. When bowel cancer is caught early 90% of people survive for at least five years.
6.2 Unexplained weight loss
Losing a lot of weight without changing what you eat or your exercise is a sign that the body is working overtime for some reason. Unexplained weight loss is a common early sign of many cancers. So Cancer Research UK says that anyone who has lost weight without trying should see their doctor as soon as possible.
6.3 Continuing fatigue
In a survey of 15,000 people, 20% said that they had fatigue lasting a month or more. If it does not go away with normal levels of rest and exercise, do not ignore it. Fatigue can be a sign of anaemia, thyroid problems, heart problems, diabetes, coeliac disease or cancer. It can also indicate anxiety or depression.
And if any health niggle doesn’t go away?
If you have a symptom that is only whispering for attention, but it isn’t going away, get it looked at. Michelle Mitchell, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, says, “It’s important to listen to your body and tell your doctor if you notice something that’s unusual for you or isn’t going away, because diagnosing cancer at an early stage can make all the difference.”
Keep monitoring your symptoms, even if your doctor doesn’t seem concerned. Patients need to keep asking themselves, “Has it really gone away, or is it still there?” People don’t realise they are allowed to say, “Where are my test results? or, Doctor, my symptoms haven’t gone away, I think I need to see you again.”