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World Cancer Day 2020: People in Barking and Dagenham urged to know the signs to combat cancer

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 February 2020

The NHS is encouraging residents to know the signs to combat cancer. Picture: Anthony Devlin / PA.

The NHS is encouraging residents to know the signs to combat cancer. Picture: Anthony Devlin / PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

People in Barking and Dagenham are being encouraged to act now in the fight against cancer by visiting their GP without delay if they are concerned about changes in their health.

On World Cancer Day, February 4, the message from the NHS is that knowing the signs of the disease and acting promptly could help save your life.

Latest NHS figures showed that around 750 people in Barking and Dagenham are diagnosed with cancer each year but only 52.2 per cent of these cases are detected at an early stage.

When a cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage the chance of survival beyond five years is far higher than at a later stage when the disease has spread.

The NHS emphasises it is important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine, or a change to your usual bowel habits.

Dr Kanika Rai, a GP and cancer lead for NHS Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), said: "The vast majority of cancers see a significantly improved chance of survival when they are spotted early.

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"The sad fact is that many lives could be saved if people visited their GP at the first sign of the disease.

"Many seem to fear that they are wasting their GP's time by seeing them when 'it's probably nothing'.

"We want to make clear that this isn't the case - no GP visit is ever wasted when a symptom is present, even if it is ultimately harmless."

As well as recognising symptoms and responding to screening invitations, living a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of developing cancer.

Four in 10 cancer cases can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices such as stopping smoking - 22pc of people in Barking and Dagenham still smoke. Other positive choices include keeping a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol and eating a high fibre diet.

Dr Rai added: "We also strongly encourage lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers. Around 27 percent of cancer deaths come from tobacco and alcohol use, meaning stopping smoking and reducing your alcohol intake can make a big difference."

Visit nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms.

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