Spot cancer early
Cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years
Thanks to better treatments and earlier diagnosis, there have been huge improvements in cancer survival over recent decades.
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Spotting cancer early could help to save your life
Diagnosing cancer in its earlier stages often makes it easier to treat, meaning the chances of recovering are much better.
For example, when bowel cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than nine out of 10 people survive for at least five years. But fewer than one in 10 people with bowel cancer are diagnosed at the earliest stage.
Finding and treating cancer quickly, before it spreads to other parts of the body, can make a big difference.
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What can you do to help spot cancer early?
Anyone can develop cancer but it’s more common as we get older - nine out of 10 cases are in people aged 50 or over. There are more than 200 different types of cancer with lots of different symptoms.
Experts have agreed on some of the key signs and symptoms of cancer which you can read about on our key signs and symptoms page. You can also check out our handy signs and symptoms checker app below (though you must have flash installed on your computer).
But it’s most important to get to know your own body and what’s normal for you. This will mean you’re more likely to notice any unusual or persistent changes that could be signs of cancer and need to be checked out by your doctor.
How you can help the people you care about
Why not help spread the word about knowing your body and what to look out for by sharing with family and friends, particularly those over 50 who are at much higher risk of cancer than younger people. Share with your mum, dad and grandparents! Tweet
Know about cancer screening available to you
Cancer screening saves thousands of lives in the UK each year. Cancer screening tests can help detect cancer at an early stage before there are any symptoms, and sometimes also prevent cancer developing in the first place.
There are three national cancer screening programmes in the UK. Bowel screening is available to older men and women. All women over 50 are entitled to breast screening with mammography. Cervical screening (or the smear test) is available to women from their mid twenties to mid sixties.
Cervical screening has prevented over 100,000 deaths from cervical cancer in the UK. Cervical screening works by finding abnormal cells in the cervix which can then be treated before they develop into cancer.
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Getting help and seeing the doctor
Sometimes people are worried about seeing the doctor if they’ve noticed a change in their body. Don’t delay seeing your doctor. If you do develop cancer, getting it diagnosed and treated early can make a real difference. Read about some common questions and worries people have, and watch a video of our Cancer Information nurses talking about seeing the doctor.
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Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team