DD, Aged 17

    When people would talk they didn't know what to say which was understandable.  more...


    Mimi - 15 years old

    I lost myself doing stupid things, angry and sad and depressed at everything. I ended up failing my classes, not caring about school, and getting into fights.  more...


    Chelsea - 14 years old

    I stuck my head round the door in the room mum was in, and she looked really ill. I couldn't understand what was happening - one minute my mum was fine and the next she was ill.  more...


    Clair - aged 14

    Something I wish is I could just have one more day with my dad! - to tell him how much I love him and how sorry I am for all the bad things I have said and done to him!  more...


    Nicole - 17 years old

    This time the doctors are unable to operate. He has already had 6 sessions of chemo and is having another 6 sessions. I cannot help feeling I may lose him.  more...


    Rirrif - 15 years old

    I have been staying with my dad because my mom doesn't want me around when she is sick, which is all the time. My dad works at night so I spend a lot of time alone since I'm not with my mom. I'm afraid she is going to die and I'll blame myself for not being there more. more...


    HT - 13 years old

    She has been so strong about this and is keen to put it all behind her.  more...

Prevention of cancer

Choosing a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent cancer. Avoid smoking, being careful in the sun, eating a healthy diet and staying physically active can all help prevent you developing many types of cancer.

In order to prevent cancer we need to know about the causes of cancer. So far we know a lot about what causes some types of cancer, for instance that smoking is a big factor in developing some cancers and particularly lung cancer and that too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer. But there are so many different types of cancer and with most of them we only know of some of the factors that can increase our risk of getting it without being able to say that one single thing causes cancer to develop. So we mostly talk about various risk factors for developing cancer and various factors that can help preventing cancer. We don’t know of anything that can completely protect us from developing cancer because we don’t know about all the risk factors. Usually, there is more than one cause for why a cancer develops in a person and we just don’t know enough yet to know about all the causes. There is a lot in the media about preventing cancer and it can sometimes be hard to know what to believe from media headlines and things that people say. Usually when we talk about preventing cancer we talk about things like smoking, sun exposure, diet, exercise and alcohol. So, what do we know about things we can we do to help preventing us getting cancer?

Don’t smoke

We know that smoking is really bad for our health in many ways and most people know that it hugely increases the risk of developing lung cancer. More than 80% of all lung cancers in the UK are caused by smoking. But many don’t know that smoking also increases the risk of developing other types of cancer too because the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are transported around the body via the blood. So far, we know that smoking also increases the risk of developing cancers in the head and neck area, food pipe, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, bowel and also cervical cancer in women. So a definite advice to help prevent cancer is to NOT smoke. Some people think that if they’ve been smoking for a while then the damage is done and they might as well continue smoking. But this is wrong – if you stop smoking your lungs can recover a lot but the longer you smoke the more damage it will cause in your body even if you only smoke a few cigarettes each day. So if you don’t smoke that’s great and don’t ever start! But if you do smoke you really should STOP. You can read more about smoking and advice on how to stop on the NHS Smokefree website.

Enjoy the sun in moderation and don’t get burnt

We talk a lot about the weather in the UK and most of us love it when the sun is shining. The sun can really lift our spirits and sunrays on our skin help our bodies produce vitamin D, which is important for keeping our bones healthy. But too much sun exposure is not good for us and can cause different types of skin cancer, including the type called malignant melanoma which can be very hard to treat if it’s not discovered early. It is the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun that can damage our cells in the skin and thereby cause skin cancer. You may know that there are different types of UV rays, i.e. UVA (the weakest), UVB (stronger and causing sunburns) and UVC (these are not present in sunlight, only in some man-made sources, previously in sunbeds but not anymore). For most people, the sun is the most important source of UVA and UVB radiation but sunbeds also release UV radiation although modern sunbeds of today are mostly giving out UVA radiation and only a little UVB radiation, however enough to cause damage. So it is not considered safe to use tanning beds and research has found that using sunbeds can also cause the most serious type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, particularly when sunbeds are used when you’re under the age of 30-35. Because of what we know about sunbeds and skin cancer it is now against the law to let under 18s use sunbeds.

Enjoy a healthy lifestyle

We’ve already talked about smoking so what other things can we do about our lifestyle to help prevent us getting cancer? Besides not smoking, we can reduce our risk of developing cancer by eating a healthy diet, keeping fit and active and people who drink alcohol should not drink more than the recommended limits. It can be difficult to know exactly what is a healthy diet and what does it mean to be active? Luckily there are lots of advice on these topics and we’ve included a link below to more information about this. But briefly, we know that it’s important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and foods containing a lot of fibre and just a small amount of food that contain a lot of fat or sugar, such as crisps, fatty meats, biscuits, cakes, sweets etc. Besides what we eat, being physically active and staying at a healthy weight are also key factors to reduce our risk of developing cancer. We can control our weight by watching what we eat and by being physically active. The good thing is that a healthy weight and physical activity have many other health benefits and also helps reduce our risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s easy not to think about these things when we’re young but it’s important to get into good habits at an early age so we can get as much benefit as possible from a healthy lifestyle. Cancer can develop when damage builds up inside body cells over time so it’s important to protect our cells as much as possible throughout our lives. Besides watching what we eat we also need to watch what we drink. We shouldn’t drink too much sugary drinks and when it comes to alcohol we should stick to the recommended limits (or below of course).

To help you find out more about preventing cancer, we have linked to Maggie’s CancerLinks where you will be signposted to high quality information on this topic.

Please get in touch with us if you have any worries or questions about cancer.

Page updated 6 July 2016