What is Cancer?

Cancer starts when signals which tell our cells to divide, grow, renew or die go wrong.  This abnormality may cause the cell to continue to divide making more abnormal cells which can develop into a tumour.  Lung, bowel, breast and prostate cancers are the most common types in the UK.  Follow this link for more information from Macmillan Cancer Support: Cancer Explained


The Facts and Figures

There are over 200 different types of cancer and 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with a form of cancer during their lifetime. In Surrey Heath alone there are around 550 cancer cases diagnosed and 250 deaths each year.  The good news is cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK.  Half of people diagnosed with cancer in England and Wales now survive for ten years or more (2010-11).


What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk of Cancer?  

A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many circumstances, including age, genetics, and exposure to risks which include some lifestyle factors such as smoking and being overweight.  Around 4 in 10 UK cancer cases every year could be prevented by making lifestyle changes.  Here are some things you can      do to help you reduce your risk:  

  • Stop Smoking - smoking is the biggest cause of cancer in the world, it causes most lung cancers and makes you more likely to develop many other types of cancer. Stopping smoking is the biggest thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. Follow this link for support in Surrey to help you quit: One You Surrey
  • Watch Your Weight - being overweight or obese is the second biggest cause of cancer. Keeping to a healthy weight reduces your risk of thirteen different types of cancer including breast and bowel.  Visit Healthy Surrey for everything you need to know to help you achieve a healthy weight.
  • Drink Less Alcohol - alcohol can cause seven types of cancer. Current advice is to limit alcohol to a maximum of 14 units per week. More advice on managing alcohol and tools to help you cut down are available from Drink Coach
  • Eat A Healthy Diet eat less red and processed meat and foods high in salt fat and sugar. Eat more wholegrains, fruit and vegetables - aim for at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Be More Active - you don’t have to go to the gym, try walking, cycling, gardening and even housework. Adults are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.
  • Sun Safety – sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancer. Use sun cream of at least factor 15, spend time in the shade and enjoy the sun safely.  For further information visit: British Skin Foundation   
  • Take part in national cancer screening programmes for breast, bowel and cervical cancers to help find cancer early and have HPV vaccinations to help prevent cases of HPV-related cancers. Cancer screening is meant for healthy people with no symptoms at all.

It is never too late to make a change. For more information about reducing your risk of developing cancer follow these links:

Signs of Cancer

It is important to know your own body and be aware of what is ‘normal’ for you.  Know the symptoms.   Remember not all tumours are cancerous and symptoms can be similar for other conditions.  If you have any new symptoms that do not go away, it is important to tell your GP.  An early diagnosis, before the cancer has become too large or spread, means it is more likely to be treated successfully.  For example 90% of breast cancers diagnosed early have a survival rate of 5 years compared to 15% when diagnosed at an advanced stage. 

Additional information on cancer warning signs and bowel cancer screening 

Take a look at various resources on cancer warning signs, including prostrate cancer symptoms and bowel cancer screening below: 

Where Can I Get Support?

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating but support is available to assist you from: 

  • Your GP
  • Your Cancer Nurse Specialist
  • Your Consultant
  • Your local pharmacist who will be able to advise about medications and other minor illness queries whilst you are receiving treatment for your cancer. 
  • Surrey Heath Macmillan Community Cancer Navigator


Cancer Support in Surrey Heath

In partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, Surrey Heath has launched the Community Cancer Navigator Service. Offering personalised information and support to anyone whose life is touched by cancer, the service signposts people to manage everyday life by connecting them to the resources they need.

To get in touch, please contact:

  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Tele: 07880 502267

Further Resources

If you would like more support or information about cancer, please follow these links: