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Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

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World Cancer Day – time to reflect on cancer prevention

Initially, the headline sounded good… “Decrease in the numbers of cancers diagnosed” – until you read the sub-title about diminished screening services, fear of going to GP’s and reduced access to diagnostic facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic (ScotGov2021)

If only we could decrease the numbers of people getting cancers especially late-stage disease and reduce incidence across all peoples- from poorest to richest from Northern and Southern hemispheres. We focus so much on early diagnosis (ScotGov, staging, 2021) as a way of reducing cancer morbidity (and mortality) but the lens on prevention has got very cloudy in the last couple of years. Focusing on health behaviours at a time when COVID-19 related stress and anxieties have risen has not become easier. We have watched obesity figures increase and greater alcohol consumption across  the Scottish population (SHS,2021).

As COVID-19 recedes it must be time to put health, not disease centre stage. Sadly, there are few vaccinations for preventing cancers – and where these do exist (like cervical cancer) we can see major differences in incidence (NHSScotland, 2022). For the most frequently occurring cancers, lifestyle matters a lot – almost 40% of cancers can be prevented and there might be good reasons for focussing on those cancers that are rising in Scotland which include kidney, prostate and uterus – all of which are obesity related. 

There is, however, increasingly good news as more research shows that weight loss can decrease risk in key obesity cancers including breast and bowel. These findings show that the damage created by excess body fat (and the mechanisms related to cancer development) can be reduced and it’s not too late to make a difference to change health and well-being. Like smoking cessation, weight management provides an opportunity to get some control back into our lives and to plan, one step at a time, how we want to lead in times of lower COVID risk.
The USA have reignited their Cancer moonshot – an ambitious plan to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years. Scotland has been a health exemplar in many ways and now it is time to seriously plan an equally ambitious and equitable cancer reduction plan that can also contribute to diminishing inequalities in health.

Professor Annie S. Anderson & Professor Bob Steele

STOP, Swap and GO!

Autumn – the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – a season for reflection and preparation for the winter ahead.

October – the month to Stoptober, Go Sober and look out for #scpnswaptober

There is never a wrong time to quit smoking, reduce or quit alcohol and make changes for a healthy lifestyle. October is as good as any month to reflect and review, and this year there are even more reasons to do everything we can to build our resistance to illness. Lots going on with the Nation’s emotional and mental wellbeing, but being able to make one important change (whether it is stop or a modest swop) provides an opportunity to remember we do still have some control in our lives. 

Continue reading “STOP, Swap and GO!”

The causes of cancer: implications for policy and practice

Professor Richard Martin, University of Bristol

Around 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime (Cancer Research UK). Over 40% of cancers are linked to a combination of 14 major lifestyle and environmental factors that are potentially preventable. The Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP) uses cutting edge statistical methods and genetic data on 10s to 100s of thousands of people to provide high quality evidence on: the causes of cancers; factors influencing the progression of cancer; new ways to predict who will develop or die from these cancers; and new ways to prevent cancer and its progression. 

Continue reading “The causes of cancer: implications for policy and practice”

Paper of the Year 2018: CMO Dr Catherine Calderwood

We are delighted that our Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood as provided us with some thoughtful reading and indeed future horizons which cover both screening and prevention.

Continue reading “Paper of the Year 2018: CMO Dr Catherine Calderwood”

Medical student: What the 12 codes against cancer taught me about cancer prevention

During first year of medical school, I walked in to my nutrition tutorial eating chocolate buttons and I was told off by the person undertaking the session. I proceeded to place the chocolate in my bag, listen to how we need to eat our “five a day” and minimise sugar intake and then left the class to finish off my chocolate. During the first three years of medical school, we are taught about a long list of conditions that result from an unhealthy lifestyle. This comes in contrast with the very little teaching we get on lifestyle modification. So, if my teaching on this topic is limited, how am I expected to embrace this lifestyle myself and subsequently deliver it effectively to my patients? Continue reading “Medical student: What the 12 codes against cancer taught me about cancer prevention”

How young adults can #BeFree and achieve more…

Our co-director Professor Annie S Anderson writes….at age 15 I thought smoking was the coolest thing ever. I dared to be different (along with my small band of pals). Opportunities to smoke were limited – the school bus, at the back of the bike sheds and out on those “healthy” walks. My parents didn’t smoke but they also didn’t mind that I smoked as long as I didn’t set the house on fire. I guess they thought it was a sign of maturity. Smoking started with packets of 10 then progressed to packs of 20 when I started my first job and then roll ups when I became a student.  I remember smoking in my hospital based office in my first NHS post and feeling only slightly embarrassed when any consultants walked in. By the age of 25 I had been through several quit attempts and found new health conscious friends that clearly didn’t think much of smoking and then I found the will power to stop. I kidded on that I wasn’t addicted but for the next 20 years and I still had dreams in which I was smoking and I’d wake worried that I harboured that addictive tendency. Continue reading “How young adults can #BeFree and achieve more…”

Do We Forget About Men?

Monday marked the start of #MensHealthWeek  so are WE as a nation doing enough to help men look after their health?!  We know when it comes to health, men are less likely to talk to each other about their concerns and are less likely to visit their GP so here are some, perhaps surprising, facts about men… Continue reading “Do We Forget About Men?”

Paper of the Year 2017: CNO Fiona McQueen

We asked SCPN friends and advisors to tell us about a report/paper/findings/work on cancer screening and prevention that has been published this year and has made them stop and think. The works span a wide range of areas from very detailed scientific investigation, reviews of physical activities, and blogs of model work. We find them a complete inspiration. When only 3% of the NCRI research budget is spent on prevention and virtually nil on implementation research; these papers provide a window on some of the very good reasons why cancer screening and prevention should be a leading part of cancer control research.

Continue reading “Paper of the Year 2017: CNO Fiona McQueen”

Paper of the Year 2017: Linda Bauld

We asked SCPN friends and advisors to tell us about a report/paper/findings/work on cancer screening and prevention that has been published this year and has made them stop and think. The works span a wide range of areas from very detailed scientific investigation, reviews of physical activities, and blogs of model work. We find them a complete inspiration. When only 3% of the NCRI research budget is spent on prevention and virtually nil on implementation research; these papers provide a window on some of the very good reasons why cancer screening and prevention should be a leading part of cancer control research.

Continue reading “Paper of the Year 2017: Linda Bauld”

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