The Big C – a subject nobody wants to talk about

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When I launched my blog with the sole aim of fundraising for a walk along Hadrian’s Wall, the first couple of posts I published were all about why Chris and I were doing this 84-mile walk.  After that, it suddenly got difficult.   I then had a brainwave ….. let’s do an A to Z and I started with a short list (some letters had shorter lists than others (Q, J, Z etc).  I’ve been gradually recycling these early posts as a way of updating their templates plus totally changing the content of most.  This one was previously the “C words”.  Curiously, the only one which also still exists is the “F words” 😁  I might update that one next! 

Now, there actually is a term “C word” and it’s used in UK as a synonym for cancer by those who can’t bring themselves to even say the word CANCER. There’s another use of the term “C word” which I won’t cover though!   A similar term used in UK is “The big C”, again disguising the word cancer as just ‘C’ but somehow adding a prefix of ‘big’ to somehow emphasise the horribleness of the word.  I still see this term today but as someone who has been blogging about cancer for almost 10 years, I’m more relaxed about using the actual word rather than disguising with synonyms which may not be fully understood.

The subject which must not be discussed – or is it? 

I read a useful article a month ago where the writer debated where we might be if, 50 years ago, we were as open about the ‘big C’ as we are now.  I’ve watched old movies and old TV series, where actors would look around in all directions, hold their hand up to their mouths before whispering the secret code “big C” when letting someone know some news.

Nowadays you cannot turn a page in a newspaper without seeing a story of sadness, inspiration or medical science progress.  Certainly, the latter is behind some of the change in thinking in several ways.  People are now living longer, and we now have much better tools to discover and treat Cancer (there I said the word).

Because we are more open about Cancer, there is more awareness.

Are Cancer rates increasing?

According to many authoritative sites, more than one in three people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, I’ve read this statistic on both UK and US sites. In fact, Cancer Research UK states that data suggests that 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.  That sounds scary but let’s add some perspective.

  1. We are living longer, partly due to medical science.
  2. Based on statistics, by far the biggest risk factor for most cancers is simply getting older. For example, more than three-quarters of all people diagnosed with cancer in the UK are 60 and over. Most cancers are caused by errors in our genes (around two thirds). The longer we live, the more time we have for errors to build up. And so, as time passes, our risk of developing cancer goes up, as we accumulate more of these faults in our genes.
  3. Cancer is a heterogenous disease ranging from the most indolent and treatable/curable all the way up to the most aggressive and incurable and our ability to accurately record these has improved.  On the left-hand side of that wide spectrum, overdiagnosis is something doctors need to manage and may be a side effect of screening programmes. More cancers are being found than before, many of which might have previously gone undetected and never have caused harm.
  4. It is generally accepted that two thirds of cancer is unpreventable, leaving a third as preventable, e.g. the effects of smoking, UV radiation, body weight, poor diet and alcohol. (note lung cancer rates are falling).  Perhaps some of these risk factors are riskier today than before?


The section above is pretty controversial in some places. But I trust the words used by Cancer Research UK including the inference on overdiagnosis. 

One thing for sure, rates of Neuroendocrine Cancer are increasing, it has the fastest rising incidence rate of any cancer, and this message must start to get through.  We definitely must talk about this cancer type as in addition to the fast rise in incidence rate, many remain underdiagnosed in the invisible NET population

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The early thought of doing an A to Z must have stuck in my head as this was produced 6 years later in 2020. Click picture to enter the glossary.


I am not a doctor or any form of medical professional, practitioner or counsellor. None of the information on my website, or linked to my website(s), or conveyed by me on any social media or presentation, should be interpreted as medical advice given or advised by me. 

Neither should any post or comment made by a follower or member of my private group be assumed to be medical advice, even if that person is a healthcare professional.   

Please also note that mention of a clinical service, trial/study or therapy does not constitute an endorsement of that service, trial/study or therapy by Ronny Allan, the information is provided for education and awareness purposes and/or related to Ronny Allan’s own patient experience. This element of the disclaimer includes any complementary medicine, non-prescription over the counter drugs and supplements such as vitamins and minerals.

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A cup of tea

I would also mention those who contributed to my “Tea Fund” which resides on PayPal.  You don’t need a PayPal account as you can select a card but don’t forget to select the number of units first (i.e. 1 = £4, 2 = £8, 3 = £12, and so on), plus further on, tick a button to NOT create a PayPal account if you don’t need one.  Clearly, if you have a PayPal account, the process is much simpler 

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This screenshot is from every single post on my website and depending on which machine you are using, it will either be top right of the post or at the bottom (my posts are often long, so scroll down!)

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