Don't start worrying about every cancer scare story. Check our timeline to see which types should concern you most
'Although cases peak in the 30-something age bracket, educating women about the risks of cervical cancer and ways to prevent it must start much earlier,' says Robert Music, director of the cervical cancer charity Jo's Trust (www.jotrust.co.uk). Despite being one of the few cancers that's entirely preventable, thanks to NHS screening, it's still the second most common cancer in women under 35.
REDUCE YOUR RISK
● Register with a GP and let the surgery know if you change address. Don't ignore invitations for screening, which should arrive every three years once you're 25. Screening cuts your chance of developing cancer by up to 90%, yet 34% of women aged 25 to 29 don't turn up.
● Smoking increases your risk significantly, as does being on the Pill for over five years.
● About 50% of us carry HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that's the principle cause of cervical cancer. If you're worried, the HPV vaccine is available privately (and on the NHS for under-18s).
● New research says the STI chlamydia is a co-factor with HPV in increased risk of cervical cancer. Make sure you use condoms and attend a GUM clinic for STI screening between partners.
Unusual, heavy or painful periods
This potentially fatal form of skin cancer is now the most common cancer for women in their 20s, according to a recent report from Cancer Research UK. 'A woman in the 20 to 29 age group is diagnosed almost daily - there are twice as many cases as breast cancer in this age group,' says Sunsmart campaign manager Caroline Cerny.
● Wear sunscreen whenever you're out in the sun - Cancer Research UK advises using at least SPF15 with a four star UVA protection rating. Simple Sun Sensitive Protecting Suncare Lotion (SPF15, £8) is a reasonably-priced option.
● Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm and cover up with clothes, a hat and UV-protective sunglasses.
● Steer clear of sunbeds. 'Using them under the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 75% and they're estimated to cause 100 deaths a year,' says Cerny.
● Be extra vigilant of abnormal moles (see below) if you have a family history of melanoma.
● For more information visit www. cancerresearchuk.org/sunsmart.
New moles, a mole that's changing or a persistent raised patch of pigment
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