Cancer is a condition that can start when one or more of the cells in your body begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably, resulting in a growth called a tumour. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue in the part of the body where they arise (the ‘primary’ site) and can then spread to other organs (‘secondary’ sites). There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a specific way.
More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the four most common types of cancer are:
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60
Breast cancer around one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime
Cervical cancer is one of the 20 most common cancers and around 3,200 women in the UK are diagnosed every year
Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. Around 44,500 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year.
Spotting signs of cancer
If you notice any changes to your body’s normal processes or any unusual, unexplained symptoms, have it checked by a doctor as it can sometimes be an early sign of cancer. Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor include:
a lump that suddenly appears on your body
unexplained bleeding including blood in your poo or urine
changes to your bowel habits e.g. looser poo or pooing more often
unusual breast changes
breathlessness, croaky voice or hoarseness
persistent heartburn, indigestion or bloating
unexplained weight loss
unexplained pain or ache
It is important to know your body and notice a change which isn’t normal for you.
Worried about cancer symptoms during the pandemic?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed that not as many people are seeking help and advice from their doctor about any unusual symptoms they might be experiencing that could be cancer. Doctors and GP practices are continuing to work, so if you are worried about any unusual symptoms you may be experiencing that could be cancer, please contact your doctor. Watch the video below to hear about how GPs continue to support all patients.
To watch this video in another language, click on the links below.