Manchester is the cancer capital of England. Death rates from the disease are higher than anywhere else in the country.
There are many reasons for this such as poor lifestyles and people going to see their GP too late. But one thing is certain: this is a situation which cannot carry on.
Unless this current generation starts to take stock, this sorry picture could get even worse.
Fortunately, thanks to pioneering work at places like the Christie, treatments are getting better and survival rates are improving all the time. But the best cure of all has to be to not get the disease in the first place and there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.
|Be Aware //|
Being aware of what could happen to your own body and how you might be affected from cancer could one day save your life. Just by keeping an eye on yourself, unusual changes can be spotted and acted upon quickly.
Here's what you need to think about:
|Family History //|
Children don't inherit cancer, but they do inherit the risk of cancer. Cancer is caused by faulty genes and it is possible that those genes can be passed on to your children.
This does not mean they will definitely get cancer. But it does mean they have a greater risk. Between five and 10% of all cancers are inherited by faulty genes.
Am I at risk?
There is a possibility that cancer may run in your family if on one side of the family:
|Body Awareness & Self Checking //|
Nobody knows your own body like you do. And if you know what is normal for you, then you are more likely to be able to spot the small changes that could be early signs of cancer.
Cancers that are often found by people checking their own bodies include skin, breast and testicular cancer. Checking your body will not reduce your chances of getting cancer. But treatments are much more like to be successful if it is found at an early stage.
So how do you do it?
CHECKING YOUR SKIN
Skin cancer is more likely to be treated successfully if it is caught early. There are two main types – non-melanoma and malignant melanoma.
This type of skin cancer is common and easily treatable. It usually affects older people and appears on skin areas exposed to the sun. Look out for:
Unfortunately this is the more serious kind. It can affect young people but is more common with older age.
See your doctor immediately if you have a mole that:
CHECKING YOUR BREASTS
A woman's breasts will change in size and shape during different times in their lives and during the menstrual cycle. Knowing what your breasts feel like at different times can help you to spot any changes.
Early detection can save lives. There can be many reasons for changes other than breast cancer, but anything unusual should be reported to your doctor straight away. Cancer Research UK advise following this five point code:
Changes to look for:
For more information, visit the NHS Breast Awareness page.
CHECKING YOUR TESTICLES
Testicular cancer, fortunately, is rare. But it is still the most common cancer in men aged 20 to 39. Checking your testicles regularly will help you recognise what it normal for you:
How to do it:
The best time to check your testicles is in, or just after, the bath or shower because the muscles in the scrotum will be more relaxed.
Testicular cancer usually only appears in one testicle. Look out for:
If you do notice any changes, it is important you see your GP immediately.
For more information visit http://www.icr.ac.uk/everyman/
Screening for cancer involves testing large groups of healthy people for any early signs. This can help doctors find any abnormal changes before symptoms develop.
In the UK, screening currently takes place for breast and cervical cancer. Scientists are also looking at screening for bowel and prostate cancer.
If you are sent a reminder to book an appointment, please don't ignore it. It's an appointment that could save your life.
Local UK health services invite women aged 50 to 70 for breast screening every three years.
During screening, breasts are examined using an x-ray which can find breast cancers at a very early stage when they are too small to see or feel.
Breast screening is very effective, saving hundreds of lives every year, but unfortunately it is not as effective at finding changes in women younger than 50, so it is vital that women learn to check themselves on a regular basis.
For more information about breast screening visit http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/breastscreen/index.html.
Otherwise known as smear tests, women should have cervical screening every three to five years from aged 25 to their early sixties.
At screening, the doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a spatula or small brush. These are then examined under a microscope in a laboratory and if there are any causes for concern you will be contacted for further investigations.
The test helps doctors find early changes before they actually develop into cervical cancer. And treating these early changes can stop the cancer developing, saving the lives of thousands of women every year.
For more information about cervical screening, visit http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical/screening.html
|Signs & Symptoms //|
Its impossible to list all the symptoms – there are more than 200 different types of cancer. But there are certain changes in your body that you should look out for and report to your GP as soon as possible if you do spot any: