Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably, according to the NHS. It explains that the cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. One in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.
The risk of developing some cancers can be lowered by avoiding certain risk factors, but not all cancers are preventable
Cancer Research says that not smoking is the biggest thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.
It states: “Chemicals in cigarette smoke get into our bloodstream and can cause damage around the body. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is quit.”
In the UK, more than 25 percent of cancer deaths are caused by smoking.
The NHS states: “If you smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.”
Moreover, being overweight or obese is the second biggest cause of cancer.
The charity says: “Being overweight doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely develop cancer. But if you are overweight you are more likely to get cancer than if you are a healthy weight.”
The NHS says that more people are surviving cancer than ever before, but more lives can be saved by catching more cancers early and starting treatment faster.
There are some general signs and symptoms to look out for, though having them will not necessarily mean that you have cancer.
Macmillan states: “If you know your body and what is normal for you, it will help you to be aware of any changes. People sometimes think a change in their body is not worth bothering their GP about. Or they may feel embarrassed talking about it.
“But if you notice a change in how you feel or how your body works, it is better to be safe and get it checked.”
If you have already been to your GP but the symptoms have not gone away, it is important to see them again in a week or so, the charity explains.
The NHS says speak to a GP if you’ve had bloating for three weeks or more and you should also speak to a GP if you have any unexplained bleeding.
Also contact a GP if you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, or if you’ve lost a lot of weight over the last couple of months that cannot be explained by changes to your diet, exercise or stress.
Cancer Research adds: “Sweating at night can be caused by infections or it can be a side effect of certain medications. It’s also often experienced by women around the time of the menopause.
“But very heavy, drenching night sweats can also be a sign of cancer.”
Any unusual change in a patch of skin or a nail, whether it’s a new change or has been there for a while, should be checked out by your doctor, says the charity.
“Let your doctor know if you’ve noticed a change in your bowel habits, have problems peeing, or if there’s blood in your pee or poo,” it says.
Cancer Research says: “There are over 200 different types of cancer that can cause many different symptoms. Sometimes symptoms are linked to certain cancer types.
“But signs can also be more general, including weight loss, tiredness (fatigue) or unexplained pain.”