1 in 2 people develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. It can be devastating to learn you have it but in many cases nowadays it can be effectively treated. We are beginning to look at cancer as another 'long term condition'. There are around 200 different types of cancer and all behave and are treated differently. You, as an individual, will also respond uniquely, depending on a host of factors.
If you have unusual or worrying symptoms, contact us. If we are concerned we can refer you to the hospital with a Fast Track Referral . You will be seen within 2 weeks and investigated quickly so you should receive an answer swiftly. Only around 1 in 10 patients referred via this Fast Track pathway will turn out to have cancer. Read more about the referral pathway and what to expect.
Hospitals investigate and treat cancers in a similar way as there are national guidelines. Whilst the UK leads in many areas of cancer research and treatments, cancer survival rates have lagged behind those of some other countries, though we are catching up fast and have overtaken some. There are many complex reasons for this but cancer care is now standardised according to best evidence and services are delivered in specialist centres.
A key to a good outcome is early diagnosis. If diagnosed early, around 80% of people live 10 years at least. We use several computer tools at Willow Tree Family Doctors to assist early diagnosis, such as CtheSigns and QCancer.
If you do end up with a diagnosis of cancer, it is important to find out as much information as possible and to ask as many questions as you need - start a journal and make notes as it may be complex. Your family and support network will need to know as well. Check out the Macmillan information pages on your type of cancer.
A diagnosis of cancer be an overwhelming experience with a flood of medical investigations, treatments, side effects and symptoms from the condition itself. Exploring complementary therapies can give back a sense of control and choice. Whilst none has ever been shown to cure or improve cancer outcomes, they can be very effective with some symptoms and giving back something positive at a difficult time. Beware of 'alternative' therapies - nothing should push you away from the medical therapies (unless you have made in informed, positive decision) and some may interact with other therapies so make sure you discuss them with your cancer team.
Macmillan has an excellent publication outlining all the different complementary therapies available (92 pages!) and links to find them and any potential issues. Some links below such as Penny Brohn are also well worth looking at.
It's the usual advice - and it really does make a difference! Eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, reduce alcohol and stop smoking (around 1 in 4 cancers in the UK are caused by smoking). Oh - and become younger, as risk rises with age. Sometimes you may have to change your family too, as some cancers have genetic factors but as cancer is so common, families with different types of cancer may not be genetically linked. And for skin cancers, protect yourself in the sun.
Read more on reducing your risks of cancer