Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the UK. One in two people born in the UK after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. Anyone can develop cancer, but it becomes more common as we get older.
Your risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics and lifestyle, but in some cases the exact cause is difficult to determine. However, it is well known that two in five cancer cases in the UK each year are preventable and are linked to lifestyle factors.
Spotting cancer early will improve your survival rate, so it’s important that you recognise the signs and act. One of the best things that you can do is remember to go along for screening when you are recalled by your GP practice – it is one of the most effective ways to identify any early signs of cancer.
What are the signs of cancer?
It is always important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, or signs and symptoms that are unusual for you. Usually the chances are it’s not cancer or serious, but it is important to go and see your GP so that they can check you.
There are some common signs and symptoms of cancer that you can look out for, such as unusual lumps and swelling, changes in your body’s habits and unexplained weight loss.
Recognising the symptoms
In the below videos, local doctors from across mid and south Essex talk you through how to recognise and identify the signs and symptoms of some of the most common cancers.
Having symptoms does not mean that you have cancer. However, it is important to see your GP as soon as possible if you have any symptoms. If cancer is diagnosed early, your chances of survival are much better than if you are diagnosed late.
Early diagnosis of skin cancer increases your chances of successful treatment. In this video, Dr Simren Kumar talks about the ABCDE of skin cancer symptoms and key signs and symptoms to look out for. Don’t hesitate to speak to your GP if you notice something unusual for you.
Early diagnosis of breast cancer increases your chances of successful treatment. In this video, Dr Riya Amin talks about the ABCD of breast cancer symptoms and what you should be looking out for. If you notice anything different or unusual in your breasts, then get it checked. Remember to regularly check your breasts for any changes.
Prostate and testicular cancer
Finding prostate and testicular cancers earlier increases your chances of successful treatment. Dr Mark Metcalfe talks about the ABCD of prostate and testicular cancer symptoms and what key signs to look out for. If you notice any of these symptoms, please speak to your GP as soon as possible.
When bowel cancer is diagnosed early, your chances of successful treatment are much higher. In this video, Dr Deepak Kumar talks about the ABCD of bowel cancer symptoms and what you should be looking out for. If you’re worried about any symptoms, it’s really important that you speak to your GP as early as possible.
If you’re eligible, it’s important that you take part in the bowel cancer screening programme regularly.
Cervical and ovarian cancer
Diagnosing gynaecological cancers (such as cervical and ovarian cancer) early significantly improves chances of successful treatment. Liza Benson, a lead Practice Nurse, talks about the ABCD of cervical and ovarian cancer symptoms and key signs to look out for.
Very early stage cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms, so it’s important that you attend regular cervical screening (or smear test) appointments. There is more information about what is involved during a cervical screening appointment below in the ‘cancer screening’ section.
Early diagnosis of lung cancer increases your chances of successful treatment. Clinical Pharmacist, Michael Thomas talks about the ABCD of lung cancer symptoms and key signs and symptoms to look out for. Don’t hesitate to speak to your GP if you notice something unusual for you. Thurrock has a screening programme which helps to detect lung conditions such as lung cancer early. This screening is open for the most at risk people: smokers and past smokers aged 55 to under 75. For more information, visit the Luton and Thurrock Lung Health Check website.
Bladder and kidney cancer
Finding bladder and kidney cancer early increases your chances of successful treatment. Dr Andrea Oustayiannis outlines the ABCD of bladder and kidney cancer symptoms, and what you should look out for. The most common sign of both bladder and kidney cancer is blood in your pee.
Some symptoms may be caused by other conditions such as an infection or bladder or kidney stones, all of which may need treatment.
More information on the signs and symptoms can be found on the websites below:
Patient Information Leaflets on Two Week Wait Referrals
Attending your regular cancer screening when recalled by your GP is vitally important to pick up any abnormal cell changes.
The earlier any potential signs of cancer are detected, the quicker you can be diagnosed and treated – which is proven to lead to better outcomes.
Cervical cancer screening
Dr Andrea Oustayiannis and nurse Liza Benson talk about the importance of attending your cervical screening appointment and what you can expect.
Skin Analytics Service
Skin Analytics is a new service that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and new technology to help GPs make a decision on skin marks or moles (we call these lesions).
When you make an appointment with your GP about mole or mark you are concerned about, the GP will take a picture of the mark using a special dermascope camera attached to a smart phone. This will be sent to the DERM AI programme which is able to make a decision on whether this might be skin cancer or just a dermatology referral.
The leaflet here explains more: pdf Skin Analytics leaflet (639 KB)
Reducing your risk of cancer
Up to 40% of cancers in the UK could be prevented by making lifestyle changes.
There are some small changes that you can make to your lifestyle which can drastically reduce your risk of being diagnosed with cancer. These include:
- stopping smoking
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- reducing your alcohol intake
- keeping physically active, and,
- reducing your time in the sun.
Cancer Research UK have developed information about staying healthy at home. This includes lots of useful tips about making healthy choices and changes (during lockdown, if you’re shielding, or just getting used to a new routine).
COVID-19 and cancer
We understand that people are worried about coronavirus (COVID-19). Below is some information for people with cancer.
A FAQ about COVID-19 and cancer has been developed with the help of national cancer charities is available to download below.
Below are links to the pages dedicated to coronavirus information for Macmillan as well as Cancer Research UK:
Cancer support services
Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan offers emotional, physical and financial support and a range of support services are available from online communities to local groups. For more information, visit:
Cancer Research UK
Bowel Cancer UK’s digital support group for bowel cancer patients
Chat Together is a free online support group for people living with and beyond bowel cancer.
It’s a welcoming place to talk to others with bowel cancer and to meet new people. It’s a chance to share experiences in a safe, supportive and informal environment. For more information and to sign up – please visit the Bowel Cancer UK website.