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People in Lewisham urged to 'know the signs' to combat cancer​

We're encouraging people in Lewisham to 'act now' in the fight against cancer by visiting their GP without delay if they are concerned about changes in their health.

Ahead of World Cancer Day (Tuesday 4 February), the message from the NHS is that knowing the signs of the disease and acting promptly could help save your life.

Latest NHS figures show that around 1,000 people in Lewisham are diagnosed with cancer each year but only 51.6 per cent of these cases are detected at an early stage.

When a cancer is diagnosed at an early stage – and treated – the chance of survival beyond five years is far higher than at a later stage when the disease has spread.

It is important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine, or a change to your usual bowel habits.

As well as recognising symptoms and responding to your screening invitations, living a healthy lifestyle can also lower your risk of developing cancer.

Four in 10 cancer cases can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices, which include:

•           Stopping smoking – 16.7 per cent of people in Lewisham still smoke

•           Keeping a healthy weight

•           Being safe in the sun

•           Drinking less alcohol

•           Eating a high fibre diet.

Dr, Esther Appleby, Clinical Director of NHS Lewisham CCG said: "The vast majority of cancers see a significantly improved chance of survival when they are spotted early.

"The sad fact is that many lives could be saved if people visited their GP at the first sign of the disease. Many seem to fear that they are wasting their GP's time by seeing them when 'it's probably nothing'. We want to make clear that this isn't the case – no GP visit is ever wasted when a symptom is present, even if it is ultimately harmless.

"We also strongly encourage lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers. Around 27 per cent of cancer deaths come from tobacco and alcohol use, meaning stopping smoking and reducing your alcohol intake can make a big difference."

Further advice on recognising the symptoms of cancer can be found on the NHS website.