Around 9,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Northern Ireland. However, one third of cancers are preventable, and early detection helps successful treatment, the Public Health Agency (PHA) highlights today, World Cancer Day.
The PHA outlines some steps that can reduce the risk of getting cancer:
• If you smoke, try to stop.
• Keep your drinking of alcohol within safe limits.
• Take regular exercise and aim to keep your weight within the recommended BMI range.
• Avoid getting sunburn – use sunscreen and a hat. Do not use sunbeds.
• If your daughter or a teenager you know is offered the vaccine against cervical cancer (HPV), encourage her to take it.
For cancer, the stage of disease at the time of diagnosis can affect survival. Northern Ireland has cancer screening programmes in place to help detect the first signs of cancer, therefore aiding successful treatment. These include cervical, breast and bowel cancer screening. Teenage girls are also offered a HPV vaccine to help ward off cervical cancer.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for the PHA, said: “We know that if cancer is diagnosed early, a person is more likely to survive. Some of the differences in survival rates in Northern Ireland compared to other countries may be due to patients presenting later to their GPs.
“It is therefore important to increase public awareness of warning signs which need to be investigated to ensure speedy diagnosis. We want everyone to also know what they can do to reduce their risk of cancer.
Dr Harper added: “I would urge everyone to take note of the simple ways to reduce their own cancer risk, and those eligible for screening, to avail of cancer screening when invited.”
For more information on Northern Ireland screening programmes visit www.cancerscreening.n-i.nhs.uk
World Cancer Day is Friday 4 February 2011
Some examples of symptoms which need a visit to your GP are:
• Coughing up blood.
• Having a mole which begins to change, such as getting larger, inflamed or developing irregular edges.
• Starting to bleed again after the menopause.
• Mouth ulcers that have not healed after 3 weeks.
• Food regularly seeming to stick on the way down when you swallow.
Notes to the editor
Contact PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.