This month has seen World Cancer Day, which is used to raise the profile of the effects of the various forms of this terrible disease. I have been looking at how Ashford performs in various ways of helping to prevent cancer.
Almost everyone now knows the most likely types of behaviour which will encourage the onset of cancer. Smoking is the best known, and in this the percentage of adults smoking in Ashford, as 17.4%, is slightly higher than the national average of 15.5%.
Many people, though perhaps not enough, also know that excess bodyweight is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. In this Ashford is about average, with 34.6% of children in year six overweight or obese. It may be average but it is still a worrying figure. More than a third of 11 year-olds in Ashford are at least overweight, if not actually obese.
Obese children are around five times more likely to become obese adults, and those adults are more susceptible to cancer, as well as a range of other diseases. So making sure that children get into the habit of eating well and getting a reasonable amount of exercise is one of the best things parents can do for them.
For those types of cancer where there is regular screening, (bowel, breast and cervical) Ashford does reasonably well, with a higher proportion of those between 60 and 74 being tested for bower cancer than the average. This screening helps early diagnosis, which is the most significant way of treating cancer successfully.
The figures on this are stark. Those whose cancers are caught at the early stages have an 81% chance of survival. Those which are diagnosed late have a 26% chance of survival. The message from Cancer Research UK is that seeking help earlier can be vital in maintaining your health.