person enjoying balloon ride after preventing cancer!
Prevent Cancers – cut your cancer risks
Almost 1 in 2 people will develop cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the 4 most common cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer.
4 in every 10 cancers could be prevented. That is more than 135,000 every year [Cancer Research UK]. So suggest, whether man or woman, you go for cancer screening for 3 different common cancers.
Then take action to cut your cancer risk. Cancer deaths can be reduced by early detection of cancers and then the right treatments [WHO, 2020]. New prevent cancers services in the UK include:
1. New NHS bowel cancer screening is being rolled out 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.
More about the bowel prevent cancer ‘FIT test‘; and how to use it is available to download in 10 different languages, from Bowel Cancer UK.
2. The UK NHS Cervical Cancer Screening Programme has introduced human papillomavirus (HPV) as the primary cancer 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. It’s the most common cancer in men, but most men with early prostate cancer don’t have symptoms. Prostate cancer is not always life-threatening. But when it is, the earlier you catch it the more likely it is to be cured. Answer three quick Prostate Cancer UK questions to check your risk. Men over 50 can ask their doctor for a PSA cancer screening blood test. This PSA test is still the best simple option for diagnosing prostate cancer, but not reliable enough for national screening. GPs should offer a digital rectal examination in addition, to men who have decided to have a PSA blood test.
Most UK men are now offered a ‘multiparametric MRI cancer screening scan’ before a biopsy to help avoid unnecessary tests. The only sure way to find out if a man has prostate cancer is to do a biopsy on a sample of prostate tissue.
5. New UK NHS genetic cancer screening tests help you find out your cancer risk. Predictive genome tests are a powerful early-warning tool to cut cancer risk.
6. UK NHS is now running a new trial blood test called The Galleri® test on 140.000 people. It looks for markers in our blood that can tell us whether or not we’re likely to have cancer, and what type of cancer it might be.
7. More miracles with more cancers are happening now. e.g. Selinexor, the first of a new class of anti-cancer drugs, was able to shrink tumors in almost a third of patients with recurrent glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. [Andrew B. Lassman MD, Professor of Neurology at Columbia University, Feb. 2022].
Symptoms of cancer
With a huge backlog in the number of people needing cancer checks, it is important to know when a ‘health niggle’ is worth pursuing. Here are a few common symptoms of cancer that are probably nothing, but should never be ignored.
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.
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 symptom of many cancers. So Cancer Research UK says that anyone who has lost weight without trying should see their doctor as soon as possible.
3. Continuing tiredness
In a survey of 15,000 people, 20% said that they had tiredness lasting a month or more. If it does not go away with normal levels of rest and exercise, do not ignore it. It can be a sign of anaemia, thyroid problems, heart problems, diabetes, coeliac disease or symptom of cancer. It can also indicate anxiety or depression.
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.”