Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. Once these areas get bigger, depending upon where they are, they might be felt as a lump or cause other symptoms such as a cough.
If not caught early, the cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.
Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis.
1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. In the UK, the 4 most common types of cancer are:
There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way. You can find links on this page to information about other types of cancer.
Diagnosing cancer earlier means it is more likely that patients will receive treatments that can cure cancer. At the moment only around 1 in 2 people with cancer in the UK are diagnosed at an early stage. Earlier and faster diagnosis is dependent on people understanding and being aware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer, by taking up screening programmes or visiting a healthcare professional. One of the ways we can achieve this will be to help the public understand some of the signs and symptoms of possible cancer and helping GPs to refer patients for diagnostic tests
Around four in ten cancers could be prevented largely through lifestyle changes. For ideas on how to get more active visit Active Norfolk, OneLife Suffolk, and Moving Medicine. Smoking accounts for one in four UK cancer deaths and can cause at least 15 types of cancer. If you would like help to quit smoking see the links below.
Smoking cessation services
How to access cancer services during COVID-19
What can you expect from your cancer service?
How will I be referred to the hospital if I have worrying symptoms?
If you have worrying symptoms your GP will refer you to the hospital on a “two-week wait” this is a request for an urgent assessment from a hospital specialist Dr because you have symptoms that could be suggestive of cancer. It does not mean you have cancer, but cancer needs to be ruled out. Detecting cancer early improves your chances of surviving.
Your first contact from the hospital may be a virtual consultation or appointment for further tests. It is important that you attend any appointments and tests so that a diagnosis can be made quickly. If you have not heard from the hospital within three weeks of seeing your GP, it is wise to check that that the referral is being dealt with and your tests have been booked.
Follow this link for further information about how to get what you want out of a virtual consultation with your Dr or nurse.
If your condition improves, it is still essential to do all the relevant tests so cancer can be ruled out. Your hospital specialist team of Drs and nurses will guide you. Similarly, if your condition is rapidly getting worse, you must contact the GP or your specialist Dr.
When the tests have been done, the hospital specialist Dr or nurse will tell you the results and discuss any treatment needed if cancer has been identified. If there is no cancer, your care will go back to your GP or you may be referred to another specialist team if needed. If you continue to have symptoms, you must seek further help from your GP Practice.
How will I be supported during my cancer care?
All people affected by cancer are given a cancer nurse specialist to speak to. You will be given their contact details by the hospitalv staff.
How will my care needs be assessed?
During your cancer journey you will be invited to complete a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) covering all aspects of your physical and mental well-being; so appropriate help and support can be given to you.
Will I receive a care plan?
Any concerns you raise after completing a Holistic Needs Assessment, will be discussed with you and your Care Plan will be agreed, with positive ways to move forward, which may include directing to other support as required.
What should I do if I am experiencing worrying symptoms from my cancer treatment?
Worrying symptoms can be addressed by your GP practice. If you have worrying symptoms, here are some examples.
If you are receiving treatment for cancer and are experiencing side effects or feeling unwell each hospital has a 24/7 telephone helpline for advice in this situation. This is called the Acute Oncology Service (AOS) and you should have a yellow card with the telephone number on it to ring.
Cancer services at our hospitals
Local support groups
East Norfolk and Waveney
National support groups and useful information
There are many services available to support you with this, including:
- Support for Family and Friends - Caring for someone with cancer can be difficult and can affect people's own health, mental well-being, working life, and relationships, it is important to seek help and support for yourself, as a family carer”
- Emotional support and wellbeing – Cancer changes our lives and we need to regain our confidence, manage our stress and deal with our emotional difficulties
- Financial support – A diagnosis of Cancer has a financial impact on everyone involved. Advice available includes accessing financial benefits, applying for grants, help with prescriptions costs, help with transport to hospital and parking costs”
- Support with Dietary advice – Eating the right kinds of foods with the important nutrients the body needs before, during, and after cancer treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger, expert dietary advice is available if required
Organisations providing support
Cancer services in neighbouring counties
Definition of cancer terms and roles
This glossary of cancer-related terms are courtesy of MacMillan Cancer Support
If you have cancer, you’re likely to meet many different doctors and health professionals during your care. They’ll each have different expertise in cancer and together can provide the best treatment for you.
Cancer Nurse Specialist (CNS) – Nurses with in-depth knowledge in the specific area of cancer care. They are the main contact during and after cancer treatment.
Oncologist – a doctor who specialises in cancer care and has advanced knowledge and understanding of cancer treatments. Oncologists treat cancer using methods other than surgery, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Surgeon – a doctor who specialises in carrying out operations to treat an injury or condition. When treating cancer, different surgeons will specialise in operating on specific parts of the body.
Radiographer - a diagnostic radiographer uses techniques such as X-ray, MRI and CT scans, to take images. A therapeutic radiographer operates the machine that delivers your radiotherapy treatment.
Radiologist – a doctor who specialises in using imaging methods to diagnose medical conditions, including cancer.
Dietitian – can give you advice on healthy eating especially if you’re having trouble eating and drinking because of your cancer treatment.
Physiotherapist – a health professional that specialises in maintaining and improving movement and mobility.
Psychologist or counsellor - a psychologist is a health professional who specialises in emotional and behavioural problems; a counsellor is a health professional who also provides emotional support.
Pharmacist – a pharmacist prepares and checks the type and dose of medicine that your doctor prescribes. They can also advise you on how to take your medicine and the possible side-effects you may have.
Occupational therapist – a health professional who can give practical assistance to help you manage everyday activities and increase your independence.
Histopathologist – a doctor who examines samples of tissue under a microscope to help diagnose a disease such as cancer.
Physicist – an expert in radiation who will help to plan your radiotherapy treatment.
Cancer Body Site Information
Patient feedback and how to get involved
We really want to hear about your experiences of cancer care in Norfolk and Waveney. You can do this via local Patient Advice and Liaison Services or PALS.
You can also give feedback via the three cancer service user groups based at the main hospitals.
Please contribute to the COVID-19 cancer services experience survey parents, carers and guardians are welcome to complete the survey on behalf of others.
If your feedback is related to your GP Surgery then please visit their website for information on how to give feedback. You can also feedback through your local Patient Participation Group (PPG) details will be on your GP Practice website.
Local media coverage
Healthy lifestyle options
Around four in ten cancers could be prevented largely through lifestyle changes. Keeping active before, during and after cancer treatment can help both your physical and mental health.
The Big C have worked with Active Norfolk to develop a 12-week physical health and wellbeing support programme to increase your physical activity with weekly online exercise classes and regular 1:1 support. Download the information leaflet here. Further details can also be found here.
Moving Medicine provide support and guidance for health professionals on discussing physical activity in relation to a wide number of long term conditions, please visit the moving medicine website.
A diagnosis of cancer can have a dramatic impact on patients, close family, and friends. It has the potential to create an emotional rollercoaster which may lead to fear, disbelief, denial, loss of control, and despair compounded by physical concerns and financial uncertainty. You can still take steps to prepare for your treatment and recovery by adopting healthy behaviours such as exercise, good nutrition and psychological interventions to improve your mental and physical well-being. Strong support from people around you can also make a huge difference. It is never too early to start; this is the idea behind the term of pre-habilitation.
Pre-habilitation can provide three main benefits:
- Help you to build a sense of empowerment
- Support you to improve your physical and psychological resilience (strength)
- Benefit your long-term health and wellbeing.
Further details of pre-rehabilitation are available on the Macmillan website.
Smoking accounts for one in four UK cancer deaths and can cause at least 15 types of cancer. If you would like help to quit smoking, see the links below:
Smoking Cessation Services