Cancer is a general term used to refer to a condition where the body’s cells begin to grow and reproduce in an uncontrollable way. These cells can then invade and destroy healthy tissue, including organs. Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other parts.

How common is cancer?

Cancer is a common condition and a serious health problem. More than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, there are around 7,000 new cases diagnosed each year in Northern Ireland.

Types of cancer

There are hundreds of different types of cancer. The most common cancers in Northern Ireland (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) are:

Risk factors

The biggest risk factor for developing cancer is age, with the majority of cancers more common in older than younger people in Northern Ireland. There are many other risk factors for developing cancer, including:

  • smoking
  • drinking alcohol
  • obesity
  • poor diet
  • lack of exercise
  • prolonged exposure to sunlight

Making some simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer. Eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and avoiding smoking will all help to lower your risk of contracting cancer and other serious health conditions.

Treatments for cancer

Treatment for cancer will depend on many factors, such as the stage and location of your cancer. Treatments for cancer usually include one or a combination of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy

Some cancers can be cured if they are detected early enough.

Other cancer conditions

There are many other different types of cancer, including:

The information on this page was provided by the Department of Health.

For further information please see terms and conditions.

This page was reviewed June 2018

This page is due for review January 2020

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