What should you know about cancer?

Cancer is a condition where cells grow and reproduce uncontrollably. Cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.This often begins in one part of the body before spreading.

There are more than 200 types of cancer. Half of all people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lives and one in four people will die from it. Of all deaths in North East Hampshire and Farnham, 31 per cent are as a result of cancer, and the numbers of people diagnosed with cancer are rising.

There are more people in the area living with cancer than Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), heart failure and dementia combined.

Despite this the area has one of the best one-year survival rates for cancer patients in England. Research has shown that 43 per cent of newly diagnosed cases of cancer are caused by avoidable life choices, such as smoking, drinking and poor diet. This means that if people work to improve their lifestyles by quitting smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol they drink and cutting down the quantities of fatty and sugary foods they eat, they can make a dramatic difference to their risk of developing cancer.

What can you do to prevent it and improve your self-care?

The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer published 12 ways to reduce your cancer risk under its European Code Against Cancer.

They are:

  • Ensure your children take part in vaccination programmes for:
    • Hepatitis B (for newborns)
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) (for girls).
  • Have a healthy diet:
    • Eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
    • Limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat) and avoid sugary drinks.
    • Avoid processed meat; limit red meat and foods high in salt.
  • Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time you spend sitting.
  • Take action to be a healthy body weight.
  • Make your home smoke free. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
  • Do not smoke. Do not use any form of tobacco.Smoking cessation services available locally are:
  • If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.
  • Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Do not use sunbeds.
  • In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels.
  • For women:
    • Breastfeeding reduces cancer risk. If you can, breastfeed your baby.
    • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of certain cancers.
    • Limit use of HRT.
  • Take part in organized cancer screening programmes for:
    • Bowel cancer (men and women)
    • Breast cancer (women)
    • Cervical cancer (women).

Bowel Cancer Screening

There are two types of screening for bowel cancer.

A home testing kit is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74.  

Bowel scope screening uses a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end to look at the large bowel. It is offered to men and women at the age of 55 in some parts of England.

People over the age of 70 can request a screening kit.

See more about bowel cancer screening.

Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women aged 70 and over can self-refer.

Breast cancer screening uses an X-ray test called a mammogram that can spot cancers when they are too small to see or feel. There's a good chance of recovery if the cancer is detected in its early stages.

See more about breast cancer screening and where you can be screened locally.

Cervical Screening

Cervical screening is offered through your GP surgery to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every three years between the ages of 26 and 49, and every five years between the ages of 50 and 64.

See more about cervical screening.

Contact details for local sources of help.

Macmillan Cancer Support

The national charity has local support groups which you can join. To find one which is of interest to you, visit:

You can find the practical help and support groups nearest to you by entering your postcode into this website or you can call Macmillan Cancer Support free on 0808 808 0000, Monday to Friday 9am-8pm.

The ones in or nearest to North East Hampshire and Farnham are:

Nepali-speaking Cancer Awareness Group - Farnborough

 Prospect Community Centre, 201 Mayfield Rd, Farnborough GU14 8UB

Contact: Dambar Gurung. Tel: 07723 052 459, email:

Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

Phyllis Tuckwell is the only Hospice Care service for adult patients, and their families, across the whole of West Surrey and part of North East Hampshire, in the Hospice, at the Beacon Centre, in patients’ own homes and in the community.

For many patients, when a cure is not possible, hospice care helps manage pain and improves the quality of life for both the patient and their family.

Seeking care through Phyllis Tuckwell isn’t about giving up hope or hastening death, but rather a way to get the most appropriate care in the last phase of life.



Tel: 01252 729 400

Address: Waverley Lane,Farnham,Surrey.GU9 8BL

Rushmoor Healthy Living

Delivering a variety of projects across the local community, working together with individuals, groups and companies with the aim of improving people’s health and wellbeing, whether through exercise and rehabilitation classes or through health education.



Tel: 01252 362 660

See our advice pages on leading a healthy lifestyle. Click here.

What if you already have cancer?

As cancer treatments become more sophisticated over time it is hoped that more and more people will be able to enjoy the magic words: “You’re clear.”

For some people with cancer there will be no cure. However, research and experience have shown that with some types of cancer a person can still lead a rich and fulfilling life for years, provided they know how to manage their condition.

NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham and Macmillan Cancer Support jointly fund a position locally to help implement the local Cancer Strategy. This role and that of a local Macmillan GP facilitator have been crucial in setting up special sessions to advise local cancer survivors and people currently living with cancer what they can do to look after themselves and to maximise their chances of leading a normal life.

These sessions, at Aldershot’s Princes Hall, have brought together hospital consultants, nurses, psychologists, nurses, as well as local voluntary sector support groups and businesses whose products can help people cope with or overcome cancer treatment.

Local people can also benefit from the Recovery College, which helps people to recover from and/or manage a variety of physical and mental health conditions. See here for more information.

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