Don't start worrying about every cancer scare story. Check our timeline to see which types should concern you most
Although most of the 6,800 yearly diagnoses of ovarian cancer are in postmenopausal women, it's still the fourth most common cancer in the 30 to 39 age group. 'It can affect women in their 20s, 30s and 40s,' says Professor Ian Jacobs, director of the Institute for Women's Health at University College London. Ovarian cancer is three times more common than invasive cervical cancer, yet research by Ovarian Cancer Action (OCA) found that only one in six women are even aware it exists. There is no national screening programme, although a trial is ongoing.
● Know the facts - nearly half of women surveyed thought their smear test would spot ovarian cancer. It won't.
● 'Anything that suppresses ovulation, like the Pill, pregnancy or breastfeeding, reduces your risk,' says Professor Jacobs. If you've been on the Pill for over five years, you have a 20% lower risk of ovarian cancer.
● If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, ask your GP if you're eligible for a screening trial, as you may have an increased risk.
● Carrying excess weight increases ovarian cancer risk, according to new research. Fat tissues produce oestrogen, which is linked to hormone-related tumours. The study found obese women were nearly 80% more likely to develop ovarian cancer than those with a healthy BMI. Previous research found obese women are also at risk of more aggressive forms of the cancer.
● For more information visit www.ovarian.org.uk.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and two in every 100 breast cancers are diagnosed in the under-35s. In the group aged 35 to 39, 1,500 are diagnosed each year. 'Early detection offers the best chance of successful treatment, so it's important for all women to be breast aware,' says Dr Sarah Rawlings of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
● Cut down on alcohol. Drinking one unit of alcohol every day increases your risk of cancer by 6%.
● About one in 20 women carry the gene that gives them a higher risk of breast cancer. If close family members have had cancer, ask your GP if you need early screening.
● Get fi t. There's strong evidence that being overweight increases your risk, while exercise reduces it.
● Eat your fi ve-a-day. A compound in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, may curb breast cancer cell growth and could make existing treatments more effective.
● For more information visit www. touchlookcheck.org.uk.
Breast abnormalities. Most breast cancers are detected by women themselves, yet one in four women rarely or never checks her breasts, according to Breakthrough. 'We've developed an easy way of remembering how to check your breasts,' says Dr Rawlings. 'It's not complicated: just show your breasts some TLC: Touch and Look for any changes and Check anything unusual with your GP. Remember that nine out of ten breast lumps are not cancerous.'
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