To mark Cancer Prevention Week (13–19 May 2013) the Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting some steps that can reduce an individual’s risk of getting cancer.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: “Around 9,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Northern Ireland but one third of these could be prevented.”
The PHA has outlined key steps that can reduce your risk of getting cancer:
- If you smoke, stop. Visit www.want2stop.info for tips to help you quit;
- Keep alcohol consumption within safe limits. The website www.knowyourlimits.info has more information on this;
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and take regular exercise to keep your weight within the recommended BMI range. The website www.choosetolivebetter.com has more information on simple steps that can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight;
- Avoid getting sunburn – use sunscreen and a hat. Do not use sunbeds;
- Inform yourself about cancer screening. There is good information at www.cancerscreening.hscni.net
Dr McCarthy continued: “We know that the stage of disease at the time of a cancer diagnosis can have a significant effect on survival. Northern Ireland has three 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 the HPV vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer.
“As well as this, we also need to increase public awareness of warning signs which need to be investigated to ensure speedy diagnosis.”
Some examples of symptoms which require 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 three weeks;
- Food regularly seeming to stick on the way down when you swallow.
“I would urge everyone to take note of the simple ways to reduce their own cancer risk, and those eligible for cancer screening, to avail of it when invited.” Dr McCarthy concluded.
Public Health Agency