Cancer prevention, awareness and early detection

Early detection means cancer is more likely to be treated successfully.

Seeing your doctor could save your life!

Watch your lifestyle

There are no proven ways to prevent cancer, but you can reduce your risk of getting it by making positive lifestyle choices such as:

  • Be sun smart
  • Be active and keep a healthy weight
  • Be smoke free and drink less alcohol
  • Eat fruit and veg/high fibre diet
  • Eat less processed and red meat
  • Practice safe sex

Know your body

We can all do our bit to help spot cancer early by being aware of what’s normal to us, noticing any changes in our bodies (i.e. through self-checking) and reporting them promptly to the GP.

If it lasts for 3 weeks or longer get it checked out.

If you are worried about any lasting changes see your GP.

Find it early

Finding a cancer at an early stage, before it has chance to grow and spread, means it is more likely to be treated successfully.

If the cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, or if it has already spread, treatment may be more difficult and the chance of survival may be much lower.

Act on symptoms

Sign and symptoms to look out for:
Persistent bloating Breathlessness Heavy night sweats 
Difficulty swallowing Unexplained bleeding Unusual breast changes
Sore that won’t heal Persistent heartburn or indigestion Blood in your poo
Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal Croaky voice or hoarseness Blood in your pee (don’t wait three weeks, get this checked out straight away)
New mole or changes to a mole Looser poo or pooing more often Unexplained weight loss
Coughing up blood Problems peeing Unusual lump or pain anywhere
Persistent cough Unexplained pain or ache  

The list above does not include every symptom to look for, however spotting anything unusual to you could be a key to detecting a problem early.

These symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than cancer but they can be a sign of that disease and so need to be checked out by a health care professional.

Remember - if it’s different to you and lasts for 3 weeks get it checked out.

Take up screening

If you are offered screening take up the offer when you receive it and encourage others to do so to - screening saves lives!

Types of screening offered

Bowel screening

Everyone aged 60 to 74 years who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit every 2 years.

The programme is expanding so that everyone aged 50 to 59 years will be eligible for screening. This is happening gradually over 4 years and so you may now be invited before your 60th birthday.

Breast screening

You need to be registered with a GP surgery to be invited for breast screening.

You will automatically get your first invite for breast screening between the ages of 50 and 53. Then you'll be invited every 3 years until you turn 71.

If you're a trans man, trans woman or are non-binary you may be invited automatically, or you may need to talk to your GP surgery or call the local breast screening service to ask for an appointment.

Cervical screening

The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called "high risk" types of HPV.

If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.

If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

© Wigan Council