World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day – Join The Fight Against Cancer


Saturday (4th February) marks World Cancer Day, an international awareness day designed to raise awareness and support the fight against cancer. Many of the world’s millions of cancer cases are preventable through checks and lifestyle choices, and World Cancer Day seeks to ignite the conversation around cancer in a bid to reduce the numbers of people who die from the disease each year. With many checks available to you to help detect the early signs of cancer – it’s important you’re aware of what to do, where to go and how frequently.


About World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day was started in 2000 and falls on the 4th of February each year. Established by the Paris Charter, the aim is to promote cancer research as well as working to prevent cancer and ensure better care for patients all over the world. This year’s campaign is part of a wider three-year campaign titled ‘We can. I can’, highlighting how all individuals can help do their bit to reduce the ‘global burden of cancer’. The campaign outlines the different ways people can take action against cancer, a key part of which is preventing it through checks.


Regular checks which could save your life

In the UK, we are fortunate that there are a number of checks available to us to help us detect cancer in its early stages, and even to prevent it completely. It’s important to go for these checks to make sure you catch any signs of the disease early, and to have the best possible outcome from treatment. The three key checks available in the UK (when you are registered with a GP) are:


Bowel Cancer Screening

Every two years, men and women between 60 and 74 are sent a bowel cancer screening kit, allowing you to provide a sample at home and then send away, without having to go to the doctors to check for blood. Some people will be invited to attend another screening involving a bowel scope to look for polyps which can develop into cancer if they grow. If detected, they can be removed, reducing the risk of developing bowel cancer.

With bowel cancer being the third most common cancer for men and women in the UK, getting these checks is important. It is also estimated that 54% of bowel cancers are linked to lifestyle factors and therefore could be prevented through consuming less red and processed meat, maintaining a healthy weight, giving up smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.

You can find information on attending screenings in East Berkshire with the Berkshire Bowel Screening Programme.


Breast Cancer Screening

For women, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, although it is increasing amongst men too. Women aged between 50 and 70 will be invited for a breast cancer screen every 3 years. The process involves a mammogram which X-rays the breast tissue to check for abnormalities. Women who have a history of breast cancer in their family may be screened from a younger age, and may be checked for a gene which is shown to have an increased risk of breast cancer developing.

For women, regular self-checks are an effective way to detect changes in the breast. There is advice online on how to check yourself effectively, whilst your GP will also be able to advise you if you are having difficulty. Find out more about available breast screening clinics by visiting the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust website.


Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer is almost 100% preventable, with almost all cases caused by HPV (Human Papillomavirus) which is now preventable through a vaccine administered to teenage girls. Regular screening however can help detect abnormal cells before they become cancerous. Women aged 25 to 49 are invited to a screening every three years, and every 5 years up until the age of 64.

Many women put off getting a screening because they are nervous or embarrassed, but it’s important to remember that early detection is key. This means it’s extremely important for young women to book their screening as soon as their letter comes through.

To be invited for a cervical smear, you need to be registered with your GP. Find your nearest East Berkshire GP with the NHS services search here.

Keeping up with your regular cancer checks is an important part of self-care. Cancer Research UK has some excellent resources for self-checks and some of the warning signs of cancer, which can help you to stay aware. Spread the word and share the hashtags #WorldCanderDay and #WeCanICan to help others learn about World Cancer Day. Remember to register with your GP to receive letters about your screening appointments, as well as to take advantage of our out of hours services in East Berkshire.