Why early detection is important

Thousands of people are successfully treated for cancer every year.

Treatment is most effective when cancer is found at an early stage. So finding cancer early can make a real difference.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells.  Normally cells grow and divide in an orderly way. Occasionally, however, some cells reproduce themselves in an uncontrolled way and these abnormal cells may grow into a lump that is called a tumour.

The earlier cancer is found, the greater the chance of successful treatment

If you can find cancer when it’s at an early stage, before it’s had the chance to get too big or spread to other parts of the body, it can often be easily removed or treated.  If the cancer has spread, treatment becomes more difficult and a person’s chances of survival may not be as good.

More people than ever are surviving cancer

Sometimes people put off seeing their doctor because they’re worried about what the doctor might find. But it’s important to know that advances in the way cancer is diagnosed and treated have led to real improvements in survival over the years.

  • The percentage of people who die from cancer has fallen by 20% in the past thirty two years
  • More than 67% of the people diagnosed with cancer today will still be alive in five years time
  • Even for those cancers where survival is poor, the chances of surviving are better if the cancer is found early

Tell your doctor if you notice anything unusual

So if you notice anything unusual about your body, or have one of the possible signs and symptoms, it’s really important to talk to your doctor about it.  It may not be anything to worry about, in which case you’ll have nothing to lose.  But if it is something serious, you could have everything to gain.

Learn more about what to do if you find a sign or symptom of cancer.

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References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australia’s health 2016. Australia’s health series no. 15. Cat. No. AUS 199.Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2014. Cancer series no. 90. Cat. No. CAN 88. Canberra: AIHW.