1 in 2 people develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. It can be devastating to learn you have it but in many cases nowadays it can be effectively treated. We are beginning to look at cancer as another ‘long term condition’. There are around 200 different types of cancer and all behave and are treated differently. You, as an individual, will also respond uniquely, depending on a host of factors.

If you have unusual or worrying symptoms, contact us. If we are concerned we can refer you to the hospital with a Fast Track Referral. You will be seen within 2 weeks and investigated quickly so you should receive an answer swiftly. Only around 1 in 10 patients referred via this Fast Track pathway will turn out to have cancer. Read more about the referral pathway and what to expect.

Hospitals investigate and treat cancers in a similar way as there are national guidelines. Whilst the UK leads in many areas of cancer research and treatments, cancer survival rates have lagged behind those of some other countries, though we are catching up fast and have overtaken some. There are many complex reasons for this but cancer care is now standardised according to best evidence and services are delivered in specialist centres.

A key to a good outcome is early diagnosis. If diagnosed early, around 80% of people live 10 years at least. We use several computer tools at Willow Tree Family Doctors to assist early diagnosis, such as CtheSigns and QCancer.

If you do end up with a diagnosis of cancer, it is important to find out as much information as possible and to ask as many questions as you need – start a journal and make notes as it may be complex. Your family and support network will need to know as well. Check out the Macmillan information pages on your type of cancer.

Complementary and alternative therapies

A diagnosis of cancer be an overwhelming experience with a flood of medical investigations, treatments, side effects and symptoms from the condition itself. Exploring complementary therapies can give back a sense of control and choice. Whilst none has ever been shown to cure or improve cancer outcomes, they can be very effective with some symptoms and giving back something positive at a difficult time. Beware of ‘alternative’ therapies – nothing should push you away from the medical therapies (unless you have made in informed, positive decision) and some may interact with other therapies so make sure you discuss them with your cancer team.

Macmillan has an excellent publication outlining all the different complementary therapies available (92 pages!) and links to find them and any potential issues. Some links below such as Penny Brohn are also well worth looking at.

Reducing your cancer risks

It’s the usual advice – and it really does make a difference! Eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, reduce alcohol and stop smoking (around 1 in 4 cancers in the UK are caused by smoking). Oh – and become younger, as risk rises with age. Sometimes you may have to change your family too, as some cancers have genetic factors but as cancer is so common, families with different types of cancer may not be genetically linked. And for skin cancers, protect yourself in the sun.
Read more on reducing your risks of cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support 

Macmillan Cancer Support is the one-stop information and support site for sufferers from cancer, their families and carers. Free Helpline Tel 0808 808 00 00 (8am-8pm 7 days)

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK has masses of detailed information about the different cancer types and treatments, the latest news on research and fund-raising + chat forum and Helpline Tel 0808 800 4040 (Mon – Frid 9am – 5pm)

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Black Care offers support, advice, befriending and more to all members of the community with an emphasis on cultural and emotional needs. Brent Support Group Meeting and coffee mornings every month Tel 0208 961 4151

Maggie’s Centres

Maggie’s Centres Has a network of centres in many locations throughout the UK. Provides free information about cancer and financial benefits. Also offers emotional and social support to people with cancer, their family, and friends. One will be built at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead.

Penny Brohn

Penny Brohn Offers physical, emotional and spiritual support across the UK, using complementary therapies, dietary advice and self-help techniques. Residential courses available.

Cancer Support UK

Cancer Support UK provides practical and psychological support to people with cancer, during and after the treatment period. Cancer kits , telephone groups, coaching etc

Live Better With

Live Better With Sells things that can make your life easier and may be difficult to know about or to source


Tenovus Aims to help everyone in the UK get equal access to cancer treatment and support. Funds research and provides support such as free benefits advice and an online ‘Ask the nurse’ service.

Turn To Us

Turn To Us A national charity helping people when times get tough. Financial support to help people get back on track.