More than one in three people develop some sort of cancer in their lifetime.
Around 298,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year.
Not all cancers are preventable as they are determined by genes, but some can be prevented by making certain lifestyle changes.
Read on for tips on reducing your cancer risks and early symptoms to be aware of.
There are ways to reduce the risk of developing the disease and since the 1990s, survival rates have been increased for most cancers.
By taking some simple steps to ensure you live a healthier lifestyle and improve your immune system, it is possible to cut down on your risk on developing cancer. These include:
· Eating a healthy balanced diet – while no specific foods will prevent cancer, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as foods from all the major food groups, will give your body the nutrients it needs.
· Maintaining a healthy weight – being overweight can increase your risk of some cancers, such as bowel, pancreatic or kidney cancer. Eating healthily and getting more exercise can help you lose weight.
· Drinking less alcohol – women shouldn’t regularly drink more than two-three units of alcohol a day, and men shouldn’t regularly drink more than three-four units a day.
Make sure you keep track of how much alcohol you’ve consumed. Regular drinking can be defined as drinking most days of the week. Cutting down alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of developing mouth or oesophageal cancer.
· Stop smoking – about 90 per cent of lung cancer cases are linked to smoking and the disease is responsible for around a quarter of cancer deaths in the UK. Although it isn’t easy, quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing lung cancer, as well as chronic lung disease.
· Protect your skin from sun damage – making sure your skin doesn’t get burnt in the sun is important in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Use sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15, cover up with a T-shirt, sunglasses and hat and make sure children do not get burnt. Avoid using sunbeds as they can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
Now let’s look at the symptoms. The condition occurs when cells begin to reproduce and grow in an uncontrollable way. This can occur in many parts of the body and can spread further than the initial affected area. Cancerous cells can destroy healthy tissue and organs.
Different cancers will affect the body in different ways, so there is not one set of symptoms that will definitely indicate cancer. Indeed, some of the symptoms of cancer can be caused by far less serious diseases.
Even so, if you notice any changes to your body, you should consult your GP and get them checked out. Although they may be linked to other conditions, some potential signs of cancer may include:
· a lump anywhere on your body
· changes to a mole
· a cough that won’t go away
· abnormal bleeding
· a change in bowel movements
· unexplained weight loss
One of the easiest parts of the body for you to check yourself is your skin. Although many non-cancerous conditions can affect the skin, you should consult your GP if, in addition to a change in a mole, you have any spots or sores that do not heal within four weeks, especially if they are sore, itchy or bleeding.
You should also be aware of changes to other areas of your body, including breasts, testicles, bowels and bladder.
Free screening for certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and bowel cancer, is available for some people through the NHS.