One in two people born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime (Cancer Research UK). This risk increases with age, but thankfully today many people will be cured, or go on to live a long time with treatment controlling the condition.
Almost half of cancers are diagnosed at a late stage in England (Cancer Research UK, 2014). This means that the cancer is far along in its growth and may have spread to other areas of the body.
The following information aims to help you to:
- reduce your chance of developing cancer;
- recognise signs of cancer to make sure you get treatment as early as possible
- signpost to further support, if you are diagnosed with cancer.
On this page you will find information on:
- What is cancer?
- Can you reduce the risk of cancer?
- What cancer screening is available?
- What cancer vaccinations are available?
- Spotting the signs of cancer
- What will happen if my GP suspects cancer?
- What cancer treatment will I have?
- Living with cancer diagnosis
- What is Surrey Heartlands CCG doing to improve outcomes and survival rates for cancer patients?
- Useful links
Cancer is a condition where cells in an area of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue. This Cancer Research UK webpage provides further information.
In the UK, around 360,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. We know there are over 200 different types of cancer, but do we do not know all the causes.
However, experts estimate that more than 4 in 10 cancer cases could be prevented and by making simple changes to your lifestyle you can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer.
- Don’t smoke - with help, you're up to four times more likely to quit than if you go it alone. To find further information on local services the Healthy Surrey Stop Smoking webpage provides further information.
- Get to and keep a healthy bodyweight
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and have several alcohol-free days – consider tips on cutting down
- Enjoy the sun safely and think about your use of sunbeds.
- Keep active - try the couch to 5K plan
Screening is a way of identifying apparently healthy people who may have an increased risk of a particular condition and who will most likely benefit from it.
The NHS offers three types of screening for adults in England to help identify cancer at an early stage. These are:
- Breast - is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women over 70 can self-refer via the NHS website
- Bowel - a home testing kit is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74. If you’ve’ misplaced your kit or you are 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every two years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60
- Cervical - is offered to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every three years for those aged 25 to 49, and every five years from the ages of 50 to 64.
Further details can be found on the NHS screening website.
Screening tests are for people without symptoms. If you have symptoms, but have had a normal screening test result, you should still see your GP.
All 12- and 13-year-olds in school Year 8 are offered on the NHS the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine – boys and girls. The vaccine, helps protect against cancers caused by HPV, including:
- cervical cancer
- some mouth and throat (head and neck) cancers
- some cancers of the anal and genital areas
- protecting against genital warts.
It is important that girls who receive the HPV vaccine also have regular cervical screening once they reach the age of 25.
Find out more about the HPV vaccine.
You know yourself best. If you notice anything that isn’t normal for your body, go and see your GP. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.
Your GP should refer you urgently to a hospital specialist if he/she suspects that you may have cancer. You should then be contacted within two weeks of this referral being received by the hospital.
For further information on what an urgent referral means and to prepare for your appointment look here.
In cases where cancer has been confirmed, you should start treatment within 31 days from when the hospital specialist has decided that you require treatment.
Surgery is a common treatment for most types of cancer, as solid tumours can often be surgically removed.
Other commonly used treatments include chemotherapy (cancer killing medication) and radiotherapy (the controlled use of high energy X-rays).
Improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer mean that more people are living longer after a cancer diagnosis, but not everyone is living well.
Macmillan’s I've Finished Treatment webpage provides lots of advice on coping with life after cancer, and getting support. Speak to you key worker about health and wellbeing events being run locally or visit the Cancer Care Map website.
What is Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) doing to improve outcomes and survival rates for cancer patients?
By 2024, we want people in Surrey Heartlands to live healthy and fulfilling lives to reduce their risk of cancer. Should they be diagnosed with cancer we want people to be diagnosed as early as possible, to have prompt, high quality treatment and to feel fully supported throughout their journey to ensure the best chance of survival and recovery, whilst maintaining a good quality of life.
Across Surrey Heartlands, we have some positive cancer patient outcomes with 75.6% (2016) of patients surviving one year. We aim to improve one year survival rates to 80% by 2024.
Surrey Heartlands also has high reported patient experience through the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey (2018) with an average patient rating of care of 8.9 out of 10. However, there remain areas that need to be improved to ensure equity of outcomes for all patients.
To improve outcomes, Surrey Heartlands CCG is working with system partners on a range of projects to transform pathways to diagnosis, improve patient experience and implement the 28 day to diagnosis pathways.
We are also working with partners to improve the personalised care offer to cancer patients and their families.
- Action for Carers
- Butterfly Centre, East Surrey
- Cancer Care Map
- East Surrey Macmillan Support Centre
- Fountain Centre
- One You Surrey