People in Wolverhampton are being encouraged to come together and unite in the fight against cancer.

Today (Wednesday 4 February, 2015) is World Cancer Day 2015, and health chiefs in Wolverhampton are urging residents to make themselves aware of the signs of cancer - and the steps they can take to protect themselves by improving their lifestyle.

There are about 200 different types of cancers which can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which fortunately people can do something about.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Sadly cancer rates in the city are higher than in many other parts of the country. What's particularly worrying is that people in Wolverhampton are often diagnosed later than elsewhere in the country.

"This suggests that people in Wolverhampton are either not aware of the possible symptoms of cancer or, for whatever reason, don't go to see their doctor about the symptoms they have.

"Therefore I'd encourage people to use World Cancer Day as a reason to familiarise themselves with the causes, signs and symptoms of cancer, and look at ways in which they can live more healthily."

Many cancers are linked to lifestyle and the risk of getting cancer can be reduced by adopting a healthier lifestyle, for instance maintaining a healthy weight, exercising more, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Environmental factors like cigarette smoke, the sun, radiation and asbestos can also cause cancer. Some of these are more avoidable than others.

Councillor Samuels said: "It's clear that people can reduce their risk of cancer by improving their lifestyle. I'd urge people to take a few moments to assess their current health using the free checker available at Type=links;Linkid=5016;Title=NHS Life Check;Target=_blank; or by booking a free health check with Wolverhampton's Healthy Lifestyles Team on 01902 444246 or 0800 073 4242.

"And if you do find there's a bit of work to do to get yourself in shape, there are plenty of things you can do."

Top tips include:-

  • take plenty of exercise - adults should aim for 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week, while the under 18s should target an hour a day
  • improve your diet - cut back on high fat, high sugar food and drink, and eat more fruit and vegetables
  • quit smoking - support is on hand from the Healthy Lifestyles Team, pharmacies and various national charities
  • cut back on alcohol consumption, perhaps by having at least 2 booze free days a week or choosing lower alcohol drinks

Councillor Samuels stated: "You don't need to make huge lifestyle changes to get in shape. For instance, if you need to increase your exercise levels, take the stairs instead of the lift or make more journeys on foot. It doesn't mean having to take up a competitive sport, just moving about more - gardening, walking, even doing the vacuuming at home.

"It's also important that people take advantage of cancer screening programmes, such as cervical smear tests or mammograms, because the earlier the cancer is found, the more likely it is that treatment is successful.

"Of course not all cancers can be screened for, so I'd also encourage people to familiarise themselves with some of the common signs and symptoms associated with cancer."

Possible signs or symptoms of cancer include:

  • an unusual lump or swelling
  • changes on your skin or in the size, shape or colour of a mole
  • a sore that won't heal
  • a mouth or tongue ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • cough or croaky voice that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • persistent difficulty swallowing or indigestion
  • blood in, or problems passing, urine
  • more frequent bowel movements that last longer than 4 to 6 weeks
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unexplained aches or pains that last for longer than 4 weeks
  • or breathlessness or persistent bloating.

For more information about signs and symptoms of cancer, and top tips for and healthy living, please visit Type=links;Linkid=5017;Title=Cancer Research UK;Target=_blank;. For more information about local services, please visit Type=articles;Articleid=5683;Title=Tackling obesity in Wolverhampton;. To find out more about World Cancer Day, please log on to Type=links;Linkid=5018;Title=World Cancer Day 2015;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Tuesday 3 February, 2015