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We are millions of supporters, professionals, volunteers, campaigners and people affected by cancer

Who We Are? We are millions of supporters, professionals, volunteers, campaigners and people affected by cancer. Together we make sure there’s always someone here for you, to give you the support, energy and inspiration you need to help you feel more like yourself again. We are all Macmillan. What is cancer? Cancer starts in cells Read More

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  • Mar 22, 2021
  • 11 min read
3 years ago|

Who We Are?
We are millions of supporters, professionals, volunteers, campaigners and people affected by cancer. Together we make sure there’s always someone here for you, to give you the support, energy and inspiration you need to help you feel more like yourself again. We are all Macmillan.
What is cancer?
Cancer starts in cells in our body. Cells are tiny building blocks that make up the organs and tissues of our bodies. They divide to make new cells in a controlled way. This is how our bodies grow, heal and repair. Cells receive signals from the body telling them when to divide and grow and when to stop growing. When a cell is no longer needed or can’t be repaired, it gets a signal to stop working and die.
Cancer develops when the normal workings of a cell go wrong and the cell becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell keeps dividing making more and more abnormal cells. These eventually form a lump (tumour). Not all lumps are cancerous. Doctors can tell if a lump is cancerous by removing a small sample of tissue or cells from it. This is called a biopsy. The doctors examine the sample under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
A lump that is not cancerous (benign) may grow but cannot spread to anywhere else in the body. It usually only causes problems if it puts pressure on nearby organs.
Diagram of cells forming a tumour
· We want to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer and to inspire millions of others to do the same.
There are 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK today, and as more people live longer with their cancer, this number is set to grow to 4 million by 2030. We want to make sure we can provide support to everyone who needs it, to help people affected by cancer feel more in control of their lives.
It’s a big task and we can’t do it alone. But there are lots of ways you can get involved and help us achieve our goal, from fundraising, to volunteering and campaigning. Together we are all Macmillan.
· our aim is to support people from the point of diagnosis, throughout their treatment and increasingly, on the way back to health. On this page you can see some of the free services we offer for people affected by cancer, their friends, family and carers
Cancer of the pancreas
· Pancreatic cancer
· Five-year survival rate: 7.2% Lifetime risk: 1 in 65
· Your pancreas is a small, finger-shaped organ nestled behind your stomach. It helps with your digestion, and also secretes hormones like insulin that control your blood sugar levels and metabolism.
· A family history is one risk factor for pancreatic cancer. If you have diabetes, a history of stomach problems, or cirrhosis of the liver, all of those conditions are linked with a greater risk of the disease, which tends to strike later in life. (The average age of diagnosis is 71.)
· While some new tests may help with early detection, pancreatic cancer is deadly precisely because it’s tough to spot before it has spread to other organs.
· MORE: The 10 Most Painful Conditions
Five-year survival rate: 9.2% Lifetime risk: 1 in 140 for men, 1 in 710 for women
Your lungs, heart, and many other organs are wrapped in a thin layer of tissue called the mesothelium. As the name implies, mesothelioma is a cancer of this tissue layer.
Asbestos exposure accounts for 80% of mesothelioma cases, according to research from Australia. For this reason, people who work in plumbing, construction, or other building trades are most at risk.
Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain or swelling—depending on the location of the cancer.
Liver cancer
Liver and bile duct cancers
Five-year survival rate: 17.2% Lifetime risk: Roughly 1 in 100
The largest internal organ in your body, your liver is tucked underneath your right lung. It plays a big role in breaking down the stuff you eat and drawing out your food’s beneficial nutrients.
A heavy alcohol habit and a diagnosis of hepatitis B or C are some of the greatest risk factors for liver cancer. So are other liver conditions like cirrhosis.
When it comes to warning signs, sudden weight loss, a cratering appetite, and feeling full even after small meals are all symptoms—though they overlap with other gut and stomach conditions, many of which aren’t serious.
Lung cancer
Lung cancer
Lung cancer
Five-year survival rate: 17.4% Lifetime risk: 1 in 14 for men, 1 in 17 for women
While breast and prostate cancers are more common, lung cancer is, according to the ACS, “by far” the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.
Like the other deadly cancers on this list, lung cancer is tough to identify until it has reached an advanced stage, the ACS reports. Smoking accounts for 80% of lung cancer cases, and your risk goes up the more you smoke and the longer you maintain your habit.
If you’re a long-time tobacco fiend, screening for lung cancer may lower your risk for mortality by 20%, the ACS says. Talk with your doctor.
MORE: 10 Cancer Symptoms Most People Ignore
Gallbladder cancer
Gallbladder cancer
Gallbladder cancer
Five-year survival rate: 17.9% Lifetime risk: Around 1 in 1,300 for men and 1 in 550 for women
Like your pancreas, your gallbladder is a small organ tucked deep inside your abdomen below your liver. Its job is to hold bile, a stomach fluid that helps your digestive system break down food.
“Severe, steady upper abdominal pain can be an early presentation for gallbladder cancer,” says Eldon Shaffer, MD, a professor and gallbladder cancer researcher at the University of Calgary.
Chronic inflammation—plus the usual genetic factors—is your greatest risk factor when it comes to gallbladder cancer, he says.
The next five
Esophageal cancer
The next five
In terms of 5-year survival rates, cancer of the esophagus (17.9% survival rate), uterus (27.2%), stomach (29.3%), and brain (30.3%), as well as some forms of leukemia, round out this grim list.
While each of these cancers comes with its own risk factors and symptoms, research consistently shows that exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight are among the surest ways to lower your risks for nearly all forms of cancer.
5 Most Common Types Of Cancer In Women
Colon cancer
#5: Colon cancer
Number of estimated new cases among women in 2016: 47,560
You may be surprised to learn that colon cancer is an equal opportunity offender, as the same number of women and men develop it each year, according to the American Cancer Society. “The good news is that it’s almost entirely preventable,” says David Greenwald, MD, director of clinical gastroenterology and endoscopy at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Protect yourself by: Getting screened regularly. The current gold standard is a colonoscopy, starting at age 50 and repeated every 10 years. During the test—which entails inserting a thin, flexible tube into the rectum—your doctor will get a good look at anything that might be amiss. “[A colonoscopy] not only diagnoses colon cancer, it also allows your doctor to detect and remove polyps before they could become cancerous,” says Greenwald.
Other screening options include a fecal occult blood test, where your doctor checks your poop for blood that could indicate cancer, or a DNA stool test known as Cologuard, which looks for potentially cancerous gene changes. The downside of both, says Greenwald, is they can have false positives, which means you’d need to undergo a colonoscopy anyway.
MORE: 7 Things Your Poop Says About You
#4: Thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer
#4: Thyroid cancer
Number of estimated new cases among women in 2016: 49,350
The chances of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer have more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to the American Cancer Society. But there’s no need to panic. “We don’t think the numbers themselves are actually increasing, but rather we’re picking up more incidental cases when we do MRIs or CT scans for other reasons, such as to investigate recurrent migraines or neck pain,” says Edmund Pribitkin, MD, MBA, a thyroid cancer specialist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. More proof: Even though incidence rates have skyrocketed, the death rates for this cancer have remained stable.
Protect yourself by: Not rushing into overtreatment. If your doctor detects a small nodule, the new thinking is to monitor it and not rush into surgery, says Pribitkin. And if you do end up needing surgery, getting just half of your thyroid removed (instead of the whole gland) may be an option. In that case, you might not even need to take thyroid replacement hormone, says Pribitkin. If your doctor pressures you to get your whole thyroid out—stat—despite having a nodule under 1 centimeter, get a second opinion. The operation does have risks (including damaging your vocal cords) and requires you to take thyroid hormone for the rest of your life.
MORE: 16 Signs Your Thyroid Is Out Of Whack
#3: Endometrial cancer
Endometrial cancer
#3: Endometrial cancer
Number of estimated new cases among women in 2016: 60,050
This type of cancer, also called uterine cancer, predominantly affects postmenopausal women (the average age of onset is 60). Alas, at this time there aren’t any good screening tests to find this cancer early, says Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, director of the Cancer Prevention and Control program at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.
Protect yourself by: Staying at a healthy weight. Endometrial cancer is twice as common in overweight women, and more than three times as common in obese women, according to the American Cancer Society. Fat cells secrete estrogen, which in turn can trigger cancerous changes, explains Thomson. If you’re premenopausal and using birth control, consider taking the Pill, even for a few years: Just 5 years of use reduces endometrial cancer risk by 25%, according to a 2015 UK study published in the journal Lancet Oncology.
MORE: 7 Surprising Things Your First Period Says About You
#2: Lung cancer
Lung cancer
#2: Lung cancer
Number of estimated new cases among women in 2016: 106,470
Lung cancer cases among women have risen a jaw-dropping 98% over the last 4 decades, according to the American Lung Association. Even more shocking, more than half of the cases in women are among never smokers (read one woman’s story here). Why is still a mystery; theories include women’s lungs being more susceptible to secondhand smoke and estrogen possibly fueling cancerous cells, says Therese Bevers, MD, a cancer prevention specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
How to protect yourself: Don’t smoke, and stay away from secondhand smoke, which can increase your risk of developing cancer by up to 30%. If you’re a former smoker or have had a lot of exposure to secondhand smoke, ask your doctor if you should take one regular strength 325 mg aspirin daily; studies have shown that it might be protective, says Bevers.
#1: Breast cancer
#1: Breast cancer
Number of estimated new cases among women in 2016: 246,660
Technically, it’s not the No. 1 type of cancer in women, as that title goes to skin cancer. But the American Cancer Society doesn’t include non-melanoma skin cancers in its rankings, since they’re rarely life-threatening. (In case you were wondering, about 8,500 people in the US are diagnosed with any type of skin cancer every single day; an estimated 144,860 new cases of potentially deadly melanoma are predicted to crop up in men and women combined this year.)
Back to breast cancer, which 1 in 8 women will develop in her lifetime. The good news is that, after rising for more than 2 decades, the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer began decreasing in 2000 and dropped by about 7% from 2002 to 2003, possibly thanks to fewer women using hormone therapy for menopause symptoms. (Since then, incidence rates have been mostly stable.) What’s more, breast cancer that’s caught in the earliest stages now has a 5-year survival rate of nearly 100%.
How to protect yourself: Regular mammograms are crucial; ask your doctor when you should start getting them. The American Cancer Society recommends having this test annually beginning at age 45. Meanwhile, take a close look at your lifestyle habits. “Being sedentary, overweight, and consuming a high fat diet—particularly foods high in animal fat—all increase the risk of breast cancer,” says Jame Abraham, MD, director of the breast oncology program at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center. Go easy on the booze, too: Regular alcohol consumption has been clearly linked with breast cancer, and research shows that the more you drink, the greater your risk.

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