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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. Symptoms are often caused by non-cancerous illness but it is important to go and see your GP so that they can investigate.

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. Detailed information on the signs of cancer can be found on the NHS Choices website.

Having symptoms does not mean that you have cancer. However, it is important to see your GP if you have any symptoms. If cancer is diagnosed early, your chances of survival are much higher than if you are diagnosed late.

More information on the signs and symptoms can be found on the websites below:



Patient Information Leaflets on Two Week Wait Referrals

If a GP suspects you may have cancer, they can refer you for urgent tests which should be carried out within two weeks.  You can find leaflets about this sort of referral below:

Patient information leaflet: why have I been referred under 2ww?

Cancer screening

There are three main types of cancer screening – cervical, breast and bowel. 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.

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.

Covid-19 - Cancer Information

A Q&A document from national cancer charities is available to download here.

Support services:



Work on Cancer in Bedfordshire

BCCG Cancer strategy

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