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World Cancer Day

February 4 is World Cancer Day, an international day designed to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage detection, prevention, and treatment.

New Zealand sees around 25,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year. There are many types of cancer, however some are more common than others. Some of the most prevalent in New Zealand include lung, skin, bowel, prostate, and breast cancer.

To help raise awareness around some of the most common cancers in New Zealand and what actions can be taken to reduce any risk, check out the information below:

Lung cancer has been the deadliest cancer in New Zealand for each of the past 50 years. This is largely due to detection often happening late, giving the cancer time to spread. Smoking is by far the biggest risk factor in developing lung cancer with over 80% of lung cancer deaths occurring in smokers.

Skin cancer is the most common type in New Zealand. It is split into two different groups – melanoma and non-melanoma, with melanoma the most dangerous. NZ has the world’s highest death rate for melanoma, with the thinner ozone layer over the country allowing more harmful UVA rays to get through. Wearing sunblock, covering up with clothing, and wearing hats when outdoors will help to protect you and reduce your chances of developing skin cancer. More information on how to self-check can be found here while you can click here to read more about our tips for looking after yourself in the sun.

Bowel cancer is the second-most deadly cancer in New Zealand. Symptoms often include changes in bowel movements, blood in stools, stomach pain and excessive fatigue. Bowel cancer can occur at any age. Encouragingly, treatments for bowel cancer are very good when it is detected early, which is why it is so important to get checked if any symptoms are experienced.

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in NZ men outside of skin cancers. Difficulty with urination is one of the key symptoms, but there may often be none. Getting a regular prostate check is a quick and easy way to make sure that there is nothing abnormal with the prostate gland.

Breast cancer is the third-most common cancer in NZ, with more than 3,000 diagnoses and 600 deaths annually. Almost all of these are in women, but a few men will experience this too. You may see a lump in the breast or armpit, abnormal swelling or changes in size, or changes in skin colour or thickness. Healthy lifestyle habits including limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active can lower risk levels. More information on how to self-check can be found here:

There are many cancers and most of us will have an experience with cancer at some point, whether that be ourselves or through someone we know. Taking steps to reduce risks and early detections are the best things we can do to limit the impact that cancer can have on our lives.

OneCare Health, caring for your family's health

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