5 Cancers you need to know about

These cancer types are on the rise. Here’s what you need to know, and the risk factors to avoid…

While breast, prostate, lung and bowel are the most common cancers, other types are on the increase. Some of this is down to better diagnosis but risk factors also play a part. So what can you do to lower your risk in each case?

 

Thyroid

According to Cancer Research UK, cases of thyroid cancer have leapt by 80 per cent in men and 82 per cent for women in ten years.

Symptoms you should get checked out are a lump on the base of your neck (or anywhere else on your neck, for that matter) especially if it has grown quickly, a hoarse voice, a sore throat that lasts more than three weeks or difficulty swallowing.

You’re more likely to develop thyroid cancer if you’re very overweight or have diabetes. Staying a healthy weight is one thing you can do for yourself to slash your risk.

 

Liver

There’s been a 65 per cent increase in liver cancer cases in men and 53 per cent in women in a decade. Often there are no symptoms in the early stages, or there may be vague symptoms such as not feeling hungry or feeling sick.

However, there are a whole host of risk factors you can reduce. These include drinking more than five units a day of alcohol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (more common in people who are overweight), and smoking (a quarter of liver cancers are caused by “cancer-sticks”).

 

Kidney

Cases of this cancer have increased by 44 per cent in men in ten years and 47 per cent in women. A key symptom you should never ignore is blood in your urine.

Factors that raise your risk are being very overweight, smoking, high blood pressure, drinking and frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include ibuprofen. Once again, there’s much you can do to bring your risk down.

 

Uterus

There were 21 per cent more cases of uterine cancer diagnosed in the past decade. Abnormal bleeding is a tell-tale symptom and the fact that women tend to act promptly when this happens means that it’s often caught early and successfully treated.

Once again, we can single out being overweight as a factor that increases your chance of developing this cancer. Having diabetes or undergoing oestrogen-only HRT also carries a risk. Research has suggested that being physically active and taking aspirin if you’re overweight could help lower the likelihood (but don’t go self-prescribing aspirin—you’d be better off going on a diet).

 

Melanoma

It’s no surprise that our love of foreign holidays and suntans has come back to haunt us. Incidence in men has gone up 64 per cent in ten years, and in women it’s up 39 per cent. You should always see your GP about a mole that changes or suddenly appears. Avoid sunburn and sunbeds if you want to cut your risk, and always apply sunscreen—plenty of it. Another, perhaps surprising, risk factor for men is having a higher BMI—or might it simply be that women with a high BMI are more likely to cover up?