September Cancer Awareness

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Every month the Atherstone Surgery raises awareness of some of the health and wellbeing campaigns running nationally and worldwide. This month we are Focusing on awareness for childhood cancer, blood cancer, gynaecological cancer, thyroid cancer, and urological cancers.

We understand that the word cancer can be daunting to many. We want to ensure those who have cancer or have a loved one suffering with cancer get the help and care they need, and we want you to know you are not alone.

Cancer awareness is at the forefront of cancer prevention. Cancer screening is the first step. This involves testing apparently healthy people for signs of disease. When cancer is picked up early, treatment is more likely to be successful.

Our Goal is to get more cancers diagnosed at an early stage by raising awareness of key symptoms and encouraging people to discuss them with their doctor without delay.

Childhood Cancer Awareness

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) is recognized every September by childhood cancer organizations around the world. It’s an annual event that dates back to 1990.

While investment in research and treatment has significantly improved survival rates for those with childhood cancer over the last 30 years, cases have gone up, not down. Since 1993, the number of children diagnosed with cancer in the UK has increased by 12%.

Cancer remains the most common cause of death in children aged one to 14 in the UK.

But a child doesn’t have to die from cancer for it to take their life. It can take away their childhood, their opportunities to learn and even to have children of their own one day.

What is childhood cancer?

Childhood or paediatric cancer is a term used to describe the occurrence of cancers among children and adolescents. While cancer can affect anyone, regardless of their age, the perspective and experience of being diagnosed with cancer as a child or teenager bring unique challenges and considerations. Childhood cancers differ from adult cancers in various ways. Firstly, in terms of the types of cancer that occur, there are certain malignancies that primarily affect children. These types of cancer are relatively rare among adults, highlighting the distinctiveness of paediatric oncology. Furthermore, childhood cancers often exhibit unique characteristics in the way they grow and spread within the body. They tend to develop more rapidly than adult cancers, and the patterns of metastasis (spread to other parts of the body) may also differ. These factors can impact treatment strategies and necessitate specialized care from healthcare professionals who are well-versed in the management of paediatric cancers.

What causes cancer in children?

Many childhood cancers occur due to DNA alterations occurring in the early stages of a child’s life, sometimes even before birth. Whenever a cell undergoes division, it needs to duplicate its DNA. However, this replication process is not flawless, and occasional mistakes can arise, particularly when the cells are undergoing rapid growth. Usually, these errors can be rectified by the cell itself. Yet, when the genetic abnormalities are so severe that the cell cannot fulfil its normal function, specific genes intervene to direct the cell’s death in the best interest of the entire body.

When these corrections are not made, or when a diseased cell fails to self-destruct, cell growth and division can begin to break free of their constraints to become cancer cells.

There are four main types of childhood cancer.

Useful websites:

Blood Cancer Awareness

Blood Cancer Awareness Month is a global event helping to raise awareness of one of the world’s most prevalent and dangerous cancers: blood cancer.

Raising awareness of blood cancer, its signs and symptoms and its impact, will help to improve early diagnosis, as well as help everyone with blood cancer feel connected and heard.

The composition of your blood consists of various cell types, namely red blood cells responsible for oxygen transport, platelets aiding in blood clotting, and white blood cells combating infections.

All blood cancers have a common origin in stem cells. Stem cells possess the remarkable ability to differentiate and transform into any kind of blood cell as they divide and mature. However, disruptions in this crucial process, known as “differentiation,” are responsible for the development of all blood cancers. The specific type of blood cancer that emerges depends on the timing and nature of these disruptions.

These issues frequently result in the production of a significant quantity of underdeveloped blood cells by your body, impeding their proper functioning. At the same time, these immature cells can congest your bone marrow, obstructing the functioning of other types of blood cells as well.

Unfortunately, blood cancer affects a large number of people. Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK is told they have a blood cancer. That’s around 110 people per day, 40,000 people per year. So you are certainly not alone.

The most common blood cancers are:


Leukaemia’s are types of cancers that impact the blood cells, particularly the white blood cells and bone marrow. In these conditions, the cells tend to undergo rapid and faulty division, leading to impaired immune system function and reduced ability to combat infections.

There are two main categories of leukaemia, referred to as either ‘acute’ or ‘chronic’, depending on their behaviour. Acute forms of leukaemia tend to progress rapidly, requiring immediate and aggressive treatment. On the other hand, chronic forms of leukaemia typically develop at a slower pace, and immediate intensive treatment may not be necessary.


Lymphoma is a form of blood cancer that impacts the lymphatic system, a vital component of the immune system responsible for generating and conveying white blood cells throughout the body. Additionally, it plays a role in eliminating waste substances from the bloodstream.

Lymphoma can develop in many parts of your body, including your lymph nodes, bone marrow, blood, spleen and other organs.

There are two main types of lymphoma, based on how they behave and their treatment:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma


Myeloma (also referred to as multiple myeloma) is a blood cancer that affects a certain type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. These cells are made in your bone marrow and produce antibodies which help fight infection.

But there are also other blood cancers called:

  • myelodysplasia (MDS)
  • myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs).

For some of the common signs and symptoms of blood cancer please take a look at the video below.

Useful Websites:

Gynaecological Cancer Awareness

September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. A time dedicated to raising awareness of cervical cancer and other gynaecological cancers. There are approximately 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK every year, which works out at nearly 9 new cases a day.

Gynaecologic cancer is any cancer that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts. Gynaecologic cancers begin in different places within a woman’s pelvis, which is the area below the stomach and in between the hip bones.

The five main types of gynaecologic cancer are:


Cervical cancer refers to the presence of cancerous cells within the cervix, the region located between the vagina and the womb. Some common indicators of cervical cancer include experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sexual activity, alterations in vaginal discharge, and lower back pain.

Cervical cancer can affect anyone possessing a cervix. The majority of cervical cancer cases arise due to an infection caused by specific types of human papillomavirus (HPV).

The most effective measures for preventing cervical cancer are cervical screening and the HPV vaccination. Additionally, implementing certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce the risk of developing this type of cancer.

When it comes to crafting a treatment plan for cervical cancer, it is essential to consider various factors unique to your situation. These factors could include the stage of your cancer, the size and location of the tumour, as well as your overall health and preference. Consequently, your comprehensive treatment plan may encompass a combination of surgical procedures, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is often one of the primary treatment options for cervical cancer.

For tips on spotting cervical cancer early please take a look at the leaflet from Cancer Research UK below.


Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that affects the ovaries, which are part of the female reproductive system. It can develop when the ovaries and fallopian tubes experience an abnormal growth of cells.

Ovarian cancer is a condition that can affect anyone who has ovaries, regardless of their age or ethnicity. However, research suggests that the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age, particularly for individuals over 50 years old. It is important to note that although age is a significant factor, it does not mean that younger individuals are completely immune to this disease.

Furthermore, while ovarian cancer can occur in anyone, certain genetic factors can play a role in its development. In some cases, there may be a hereditary component to ovarian cancer, meaning that individuals with a family history of the disease may have an increased risk. Genetic mutations, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, are known to be associated with an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancers.

However, it is essential to remember that hereditary factors are just one aspect of ovarian cancer development, and the majority of cases occur in individuals without any known family history. Therefore, it is crucial for all individuals with ovaries, regardless of their family history, to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors associated with ovarian cancer.

Regular check-ups, awareness of the signs and symptoms, and early detection can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment. Furthermore, discussing any concerns with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance on screening options or genetic testing if necessary.

Ultimately, understanding the factors that contribute to ovarian cancer can help individuals make informed decisions about their health and take appropriate steps for prevention or early intervention.

It’s estimated that there are around 4,100 deaths from ovarian cancer in the UK in every year. A rate of one woman every two hours. Because the symptoms are common and misdiagnosed, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late. The earlier ovarian cancer can be diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

Uterine (Womb)

Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is a prevalent type of cancer that affects the female reproductive system specifically the womb (uterus).

Womb cancer is often accompanied by abnormal vaginal bleeding, which is its most prevalent symptom. In post-menopausal individuals, any instance of vaginal bleeding is regarded as abnormal. For those who have not experienced menopause, atypical bleeding may include occurrences of bleeding between menstrual cycles.

You should speak to your GP as soon as possible if you experience any unusual vaginal bleeding. While it’s unlikely to be caused by womb cancer, it’s best to be sure. Your GP will examine you and ask about your symptoms. They will refer you to a specialist for further tests if they suspect you may have a serious problem, or if they are unsure about a diagnosis.


Vaginal cancer is an uncommon form of cancer that originates in the vagina, the muscular tube connecting the vulva to the cervix. While it is primarily diagnosed in women aged 75 and older, it can occur in individuals of any age who possess a vagina.  Generally, vaginal cancer progresses slowly, and its severity is influenced by factors such as tumour size, spread, and overall health condition. Understanding the nature of this cancer is crucial for early detection, better treatment outcomes, and emotional support for affected individuals.

Vaginal cancer is nearly always caused by an infection from certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s often found and prevented by attending cervical screening, which aims to find and treat abnormalities before they turn into cancer.


Vulval cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer that specifically develops in the vulva, which refers to the external female genitalia. While it accounts for a small percentage of all cancers in women, it is important to understand this disease and its potential impact on affected individuals. 

The vulva is made up of external structures around the vaginal opening, and vulval cancer can cause changes in the skin and other symptoms. These symptoms may manifest as itchiness, discomfort, and alterations in the visual appearance of the vulva. Risk factors include aging, HPV infection, smoking, and other factors. Diagnosis involves physical examination and biopsies, and additional tests may be needed. Treatment options depend on various factors, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Awareness and self-examinations are important for early detection, and prevention methods can help reduce the risk. Understanding vulval cancer is crucial for effective management.

The primary approach for managing vulval cancer is through surgical intervention. Additional possible treatments involve radiotherapy and chemotherapy options.

It’s not clear exactly what causes vulval cancer. It’s been linked to things like getting older, smoking and skin conditions affecting the vulva. It’s not possible to completely prevent vulval cancer. But using a condom during sex, attending cervical screening checks and not smoking can help.

(A sixth type of gynaecologic cancer is the very rare fallopian tube cancer.)

Please Check out the links below for a selection of useful websites:

Thyroid Cancer Awareness

What is thyroid cancer?

The thyroid gland, located just above your collarbones in the neck, is responsible for producing essential hormones that regulate various bodily functions. Unfortunately, there are several types of cancer that can affect the thyroid. One of the most frequently encountered types is known as papillary carcinoma, which tends to affect younger individuals, particularly women.

Papillary carcinoma, characterized by the abnormal growth of cells in the thyroid, is the most common form of thyroid cancer. Its occurrence in younger individuals raises concerns, making it vital to raise awareness about this particular type of cancer among people of all age groups. By understanding the unique characteristics of papillary carcinoma, individuals can gain a better understanding of their risk factors, symptoms, and available treatment options. Moreover, early detection can significantly improve the prognosis and increase the chances of successful outcomes.

It is important to note that while papillary carcinoma is more prevalent in younger individuals, it can affect people of all ages. Hence, irrespective of age or gender, everyone should be vigilant about their health and seek medical attention if they experience any concerning symptoms such as a lump or swelling in the neck, difficulty swallowing, or changes in voice.

Raising awareness among the general public about these risk factors and the importance of regular check-ups can greatly contribute to the early detection of papillary carcinoma. This, in turn, leads to a significant rise in the success rates of treatment. Although treatment for thyroid cancer is generally successful, it remains crucial to seek medical attention if any worrisome symptoms are experienced.

Thyroid cancer symptoms

Some thyroid cancer symptoms can be:

  • a sore throat or hoarse voice that lasts for several weeks, or if swallowing is painful for that amount of time.
  • if you feel a lump in your neck (and especially in the base of your neck) which gradually gets bigger. Occasionally this lump may interfere with breathing or make it difficult to eat.

It is advisable to regularly monitor your health for the presence of any of these symptoms or any abnormal changes. It’s important to note that while thyroid lumps can occur, the majority are not cancerous. Additionally, it’s worth recognizing that some of these symptoms may also be caused by other factors.

Useful websites:

Urological Cancer Awareness

Urology Awareness Month is a yearly initiative aimed at increasing public knowledge about urological ailments such as prostate, bladder, kidney, and male reproductive cancers. It also focuses on promoting awareness of non-malignant conditions like incontinence, urinary tract infections (UTIs), erectile dysfunction, and kidney stones.

Urological problems are common and not usually cancerous, but some symptoms can be similar to urological cancers. UTIs are the most common issue, but it’s important to be aware of potential red flags for cancer. These include blood in urine, frequent urination at night, unexplained weight loss, and pelvic pain. Seeking medical advice is crucial for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. Staying informed and proactive can help identify urological cancers early for better outcomes.

What is urological cancer?

Urological cancers are all the cancers that can affect the organs in the urinary system. These include:

  • kidney cancer
  • Upper urinary tract urothelial cancer (UTUC)
  • bladder cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • testicular cancer
  • penile cancer

What causes urological cancers?

The exact cause behind why one individual develops urological cancer while another does not remains largely unknown. However, certain factors, known as risk factors, have been identified to contribute to the likelihood of developing cancer. Some common risk factors for cancer include advancing age, smoking, and a family history of cancer. Additionally, there are specific risk factors that increase the chances of developing urological cancers.

Symptoms to look out for

 Most urological problems, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), are not cancer. But sometimes the symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of urological cancers. If you notice any symptoms, it is important to get checked by your GP. These can include:

  • Blood in the urine (pee) 
  • Pain in the lower tummy or in one side of the lower back
  • Needing to pee more often than usual, especially at night.
  • Difficulty peeing, for example pain or discomfort, a weak flow or having to strain to pass urine.
  • Urgent need to pee.
  • Feeling like your bladder is not empty after peeing.
  • A lump in the testicle, groin or on the penis
  • A growth or sore (ulcer) or changes in skin on the penis, or discharge or bleeding from the penis

Urological cancers can be easier to treat if they are diagnosed at an early stage.

Discussing symptoms that may be embarrassing can be a challenging experience for anyone. However, it is important to remember that your general practitioner (GP) and other healthcare professionals are well-acquainted with such conversations and are there to assist you. They understand that using unfamiliar medical terms might not be easy for everyone, and they genuinely want to provide you with the best possible help and advice. Therefore, they encourage you to express yourself using words you are comfortable with. This way, they can better comprehend your situation and offer appropriate guidance tailored to your needs.

Useful websites: