Cancer prevention and early detection

“Prevention is better than cure”

Many Cancers are preventable through good lifestyle choices by eating healthily, moving more, drinking less alcohol, and of course, stopping smoking.  Preventable cancers include bowel, breast, gallbladder, kidney, liver, lung, mouth, pharynx and larynx (throat), oesophagus (gullet), pancreas and stomach. So see below how you can reduce your chances of developing these cancers, the section called “Cancer Prevention Recommendations“.

Participating in the cancer screening checks offered by the Government are also an excellent way of cancer prevention, such as Cervical Screening (Smear Test). The smear test looks for cell changes in the cervix long before it becomes cancer and so if any abnormal changes are found, they can be removed before they get a chance to become cancer, which is fantastic.

The HPV Vaccination for young girls at school can also be considered as Cervical cancer prevention as it is the Human papilloma virus (HPV) which can cause the cell changes in the first place. So by having your child vaccinated against HPV you are reducing the chance of them developing cervical cancer.

Early detection

Early detection is also in your best interest, as very often if cancer is found early then something can be done about it straight away to provide a cure. Thousands of cancer deaths could be prevented each year if more cancers were diagnosed at an early stage. When cancer is picked up early the chances of surviving it are greater.

Breast Screening (Mammogram), and Bowel Screening (Stool sample) are cancer screening programs provided free by the government, and so you should take the opportunity to participate in these programs as we are very lucky to have them in this country. Check out the website:

Spotting signs of cancer

  • A mouth or tongue ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • A cough or croaky voice that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • Persistant difficulty swallowing or indigestion
  • A change to more frequent bowel motions that lasts longer than 6 weeks
  • Blood in your stools
  • Problems passing urine
  • Blood in your urine
  • A change in the size, shape or colour of a mole
  • An unexplained pain or ache that lasts longer than 4 weeks
  • An unusual lump or swelling anywhere on your body
  • Unexplained weight loss or heavy night sweats
  • A sore that won’t heal after several weeks

Specifically for women

  • Changes in the size, shape or fell of your breasts
  • Any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin on your breasts

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, which can cause many different symptoms. Experts agree that the symptoms above are the most important ones to look out for and act on.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to know what’s normal for you and listen to your body. This will make it easier for you to spot any new changes that could be signs of cancer. If you notice any unusual or persistent changes, it’s worth getting checked out.  Being aware of when something is “not right” and not ignoring it, is very important.  If you know certain signs to look out for,  you can go quickly for a check from your GP, if you become aware of a set of symptoms that weren’t there before.  One symptom on its own is very rarely a concern, but when there are several symptoms, these should be checked out.

Ovarian Cancer

Be aware of these symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:


  • A persistant bloating
  • Abdominal, pelvic or lower back pain
  • A difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • An urgent more frequent need to urinate


  • Consistent symptoms that don’t go away
  • Concern this is NOT normal for you


  • Time to talk
  • Tell your Doctor
  • This could save your life


A smear test cannot detect Ovarian cancer – symptom awareness can.

For more information visit :

Testicular Cancer

If you notice any of these symptoms, get them checked out:

  • A lump or swelling in a testicle
  • An increase in the firmness or change in the texture of a testicle
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • A heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • An unusual difference between one testicle and the other

If you notice anything unusual about your testicles, go and see your doctor. Chances are it won’t be cancer, but it’s important to get it checked out. The good news is that Testicular cancer is almost always curable – the disease responds well to treatment.

Prostate Cancer

The most common symptoms of Prostate Cancer are:

  • having to rush to the toilet to pass urine
  • needing to pass urine more often then usual, especially at night
  • difficulty passing urine

And less commonly:

  • blood in the urine or semen
  • pain when passing urine
  • difficulty getting an erection or erection problems
  • pain in your back, hips or pelvis

These symptoms may be cause by problems that are much less serious than cancer. But if you develop any of them, it is best to see your doctor. As a man gets older, his prostate may get bigger and restrict the flow of urine. This is a very common condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer, but causes some of the same symptoms as Prostate cancer, so it’s best to get it checked out.

If you are affected by cancer it can help to talk to someone who has been there:

http://macmillan@glasgowlibraries      Tel: 0141 287 2903

Macmillan Support line is free on Tel: 0808 808 00 00  (Monday – Friday 9am to 8pm)