by | Jul 24, 2018

What is cancer?

Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way. In the UK, the four most common types of cancer are: breast cancer; lung cancer; prostate cancer; and bowel cancer.

Information and support follows:

Early detection

Recognising the warning signs and symptoms of cancer and taking prompt action leads to early diagnosis and greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.

Cancer Research UK has a great deal of information on its website about how to spot cancer early, including the key signs and symptoms to look for.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support can help. The website details what to expect and offers information, practical advice and support.

NHS breast screening programme

Women aged 50 to 70 years are invited to a screening every three years and women over 70 can request to be screened.

If you are invited to attend one of the mobile breast screening units for a screening mammogram (x-ray of the breasts), the results would be sent to you within two weeks and a copy sent to your GP.

If you have missed your screening appointment please contact Pennine Breast Screening Service on: 01274 365521

This short film explains what happens when you have a mammogram and you’ll find more information about breast screening on the Cancer Research UK website here and on the Macmillan Cancer Support website here.

NHS bowel screening programme

Men and women aged 60 to 74 are screened for bowel cancer every two years and those aged 75 and over can request a screening kit. Bowel cancer screening uses a stool sample test called a ‘Faecal Occult Blood Test’ (FOBT) which looks for hidden blood in the stool sample. The test is done at home and posted to the screening centre for analysis.

Requesting a new test kit
To order a new test kit, or if you have any questions about the test, you can contact the Bowel Screening Helpline on freephone: 0800 707 6060

This video explains how to do the bowel cancer screening test and you’ll find more information about the screening programme on the Cancer Research UK website here and on the Macmillan Cancer Support website here.

NHS cervical screening programme

Women aged 25 to 49 are screened every three years and women aged 50 to 64 every five years. The screening takes the form of a smear test which looks for pre-cancerous cells. Smear tests are carried out at GP practices and the results are sent out within a few weeks of the test.

Research shows that cervical screening prevents at least 2,000 cervical cancer deaths each year in the UK so please don’t miss out on this screening and contact your GP practice to book your smear.

Take a look at this animation to find out what to expect when you go for your smear test and visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website or the Cancer Research UK website for more information about the cervical screening programme.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to women, their families and friends affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The Trust’s website has a great deal of information about cervical screening, including a short video called ‘Smear tests: the facts’ available to view here.

Cancer information for people with learning disabilities


Cervical screening information for women with learning disabilities

‘The smear test film’ features women with a learning disability to provide information on smear testing, why it is important and what exactly happens during a smear test. You can view the film on the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website here.

Easy read cancer information

Macmillan Cancer Support has a range of easy read information about cancer including this booklet ‘What is cancer?‘ There are also booklets about the signs of cancer, the tests for cancer and the different types of treatment for cancer on the Macmillan website here.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Millions of supporters, professionals, volunteers, campaigners and people affected by cancer make up Macmillan. The charity provides practical, medical and financial support, from the time people are diagnosed with cancer, through their treatment and beyond. Macmillan Cancer Support also offers a range of free courses, workshops and e-learning for people affected by cancer, including carers, family members, volunteers and community members. Visit Macmillan’s website to find out more.

Practice Activity and Leisure Scheme (PALS)

PALS is a Kirklees exercise referral scheme which offers support and encouragement to people who want to improve their quality of life by becoming more active. If you have cancer, your secondary care cancer nurse specialist can refer you onto the scheme if you both feel that this would be beneficial to you. Visit the council’s website here to find out what happens on PALS.

Yorkshire Cancer Patient Forum

The Yorkshire Cancer Patient Forum is a group of people who have been directly affected by cancer – patients, carers, friends and family – and those working with or within cancer services. On the group’s website, you’ll be able to; find support in your area for cancer patients and their carers; read about topics that matter; and access detailed information about the different types of cancer.


Research has shown that certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer. Cancer risk factors include things that people cannot control such as age and genetics but there are many risk factors that people can control including diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to sunlight.

Please see the following links with further information and support for making lifestyle choices that can reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer:



Simple tests can identify cancer in its very early stages, even before people have experienced any symptoms.

See the information on the left for further details about the three key cancer screening programmes which are for breast cancer, bowel cancer and cervical cancer.

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