Because so many people are affected by cancer, you may be confused into thinking that all of us have cancer-like cells in our bodies at any one time.  But this is not the case.  Whilst it is possible that many of us have cells that have been damaged at DNA level, this is not the same as having cancer.  The body operates a natural cycle which continually checks to see if cells are in a healthy state or not. If not, they do not divide and multiply but instead should be repaired or killed off.

Cancer occurs when these automatic checks in the body malfunction is some way and unhealthy cells are allowed to start dividing and growing.

Dr Anderson, a senior practitioner at, explains;

 P53 comes to the rescue

We all have something referred to as a P53 tumour suppressor in our body. When the body detects DNA damage to cells, the levels of P53 increase, blocking the cancer and preventing it from growing. It is only when something goes wrong and the body’s natural defences do not kick in, that cancer begins to develop.   This can then go on to form a tumour, which may or may not be cancerous.  If it is benign, it will not spread.  It is only when it is malignant that the problems start as it will spread throughout the body.   Cancerous cells can also travel through the body in the blood or the lymphatic system.

Who gets cancer?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are found to have cancer.  Approximately one in three of us will develop cancer during our life.  It is not a disease that is age restricted, so although it can affect children, it is more common in older people.  Here are a few statistics:

Age                                      Probability of cancer

  • 75+                                      A third
  • 50 – 74                                Over half
  • 25 – 49                                Ten percent
  • 15 – 24                                Less than one percent
  • 14 or less                            Less than one percent

Of course this does not mean that as you get older you are bound to get cancer; it is just that the likelihood advances.

Types of cancer

There are many types of cancer.  In men, prostate cancer is the most common.  In women, the culprit is mainly breast cancer.  Children are found to suffer from leukaemia quite frequently.   Young people can be struck down with lymphoma.   In the age group 25 – 49, the following cancers are often detected; breast cancer, melanoma, colon or rectal cancer testicular or cervical cancer.

Avoiding cancer

Our body is a complex machine and the best way of helping it to remain healthy and alert and more able to ward off cancer is to look after it as well as we can.  There are over two hundred types of cancer in existence and doctors are not sure what causes all of them.  We cannot prevent ourselves getting older but we can maintain our body in such a way that it is able to protect itself more comprehensively.

Here are just a few of things that we should do to maintain our health:

  • Do not smoke
  • Eat a good healthy diet
  • Look after your weight and if it is excessive, try to reduce it
  • Obtain from drinking alcohol or decrease the amount consumed
  • Exercise regularly

Cancer research and treatment

Research into cancer and the ways of preventing it and treating it are ongoing on a continual basis.  Even people that do contract cancer can be healed. If a total cure is not possible, treatment can control it for a long time.   Cancer treatments are also improving all of the time.

The best advice for all of us is to get checked regularly for possible signs of cancer.  If we do notice something suspicious or out of the ordinary, it is best to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.  The sooner cancer is detected, the more easily it can be treated in the early stages.

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