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Cancer

What is Cancer?

Cancer starts when gene changes make one cell or a few cells begin to grow and multiply too much. This may cause a growth called a tumour.

A primary tumour is the name for where a cancer starts, however Cancer can sometimes spread to other parts of the body – this is called a secondary tumour or a metastasis.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer.

1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime but thanks to research you are twice as likely to survive cancer as you were 40 years ago. 

It mainly affects older people, with almost 9 out of 10 cases diagnosed in people aged 50 and over.

How to spot it?

When it comes to cancer there are four key signs to look out for:

  1. Unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury
  2. An unexplained lump
  3. Unexplained weight loss, which feels significant to you
  4. Any type of unexplained pain that doesn’t go away.

If you notice any of these, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your symptoms are likely to be caused by something much less serious than cancer, but they could be a sign of the disease. Spotting cancer early is important as it means that treatment is more likely to be successful. 

You should also see your doctor if you notice anything that is persistent, unexplained or an unusual change in your body:

Persistent – symptoms that last for three weeks or more such as a cough, bloating, heartburn or indigestion; a mouth or tongue ulcer; a sore that won’t heal.

Unexplained – such as needing to pee more frequently or very suddenly; a difficulty in swallowing food; blood in your poo. 

Unusual change for you – such as the shape, size or colour of a mole, or the appearance of a new mole; or a change to your nipple, skin or shape of your breast.

The importance of seeing your doctor

You are not wasting your doctor’s time by getting any of these symptoms checked out. If it isn’t serious, it will give you peace of mind. But if it is cancer, early diagnosis can make all the difference. The sooner cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. If you’ve already been to the doctor but your symptoms persist, it is important to see your doctor again – he or she will want to know!

How to reduce your chances of getting cancer

  • Stop Smoking
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Keep active
  • Protect your skin from sun damage

National advice and information

Cancer Research UK- Research and support charity.

NHS Choices- Advice and information on cancer.

Prostate Cancer UK- Largest men's health charity in the UK.

Marie Curie- Care and support charity focusing on terminal illness.

Macmillan Cancer Support- Information and support charity.

Help and Support Manchester

Cancer- For more information on local services, visit Manchester City Council's Help and Support portal.