Monday, 26 January 2015

5. Self Help in Cancer diagnosis and prevention


Becky Adlington discusses Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing 
at the Telegraph Be Fit Show, 1-3 May.

     In his UCL report Overcoming Cancer in the 21st Century, Professor David Taylor has forecast that deaths from cancer will be eliminated for all age groups except the over-80s by 2050.  
     This is an exciting prospect that the press trumpeted when the report was published on 14 January.  
     However, while extolling the significant advances in cancer treatment and survival rates over the past decades, Professor Taylor's forecast was tempered by the crucial provisos that recent gains in prevention and treatment must carry on apace.
     Responsibility for such future gains rests not only with a National Health Service, originally designed  by the government in 1948 for a population of 50 million and now in danger of collapse under the weight of 63.5 million in 2015, but also with us individually.
     The prospects for cancer care in the NHS and cancer care are indeed gloomy, with hospitals running out of cash and reducing clinical staff. 
     NHS waiting times for cancer treatment worsened in 2014 and will worsen  in the future unless both Labour and Conservative funding pledges are revised considerably upwards after the General Election in May, according to Professor John Appleby, Chief Economist at the King’s Fund.
     We can help ourselves in cancer diagnosis and treatment, however, by being better informed about symptoms, (pick up leaflets from your local pharmacist or check online), being less afraid of cancer, and more willing to get ourselves tested. 
     We can also do much to prevent the onset of a number of cancers by adopting a healthier lifestyle and diet.  "The links between cancer and smoking, heavy drinking, obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise are now clinically well established",  states Dr. Ian Hampson, of the Institute of Cancer Sciences. 
     We ignore those links at our peril.

Further Reading:
Overcoming Cancer in the 21st Century  UCL Report.
The King’s Fund  Ideas that change health care.
Institute of Cancer Studies  Improving cancer outcomes through research and education.

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