Cancer Prevention, Screening and Treatment

Key messages

  • Mortality from cancer accounts for 19% of the male life expectancy gap and 13% of the female life expectancy gap between Lewisham and England.
  • There is a clear downward trend in premature mortality from cancer in Lewisham but the relative gap between Lewisham and England has increased from 9.35 in 1995-97 to 11.6% in 2006-08.
  • The largest number of deaths is from Lung cancer in Lewisham followed by Breast, Colon and Prostate cancer.
  • The estimated smoking prevalence in Lewisham is significantly higher than England. The estimated smoking prevalence in 2006 in Lewisham was 26.8% -seventh highest in London –compared with an England prevalence of 24.1%.
  • There is a need to understand the excess cancer mortality in both men and women aged 65+ in Lewisham compared to England.
  • There is a need to investigate why Lewisham is in the lowest quartile nationally for one-year survival for colon cancer.
  • There is a need to role out the learning from the Health Community Collaborative Cancer Project across Lewisham. There is a need to have a greater focus on raising awareness and early diagnosis across GP practices in Lewisham. This will require support and training in primary care.
  • There is a need to consider what are the most effective interventions to promote awareness of cancer symptoms and the benefits of screening to the diverse populations in Lewisham.
  • There is a need to negotiate and implement a Cancer screening specification in primary care to increase the uptake of cancer screening programmes.
  • There is a need to spread best practice in cervical screening across all practices in Lewisham to reduce variability in coverage.
  • Work with partners to maintain and “industrialise” i.e. increase in scale, primary prevention interventions in particular reducing smoking prevalence, the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity, promote sensible drinking and to sustain the skin campaign.
  • Work in partnership with South East Cancer Network (SELCN) to implement the Model of Care for London cancer services.





There are more than 293,000 new cases of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) diagnosed each year in the UK, and more than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, but four of them - breast, lung, large bowel (colorectal) and prostate - account for over half (54%) of all new cases. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK even though it is rare in men. The development of a cancer involves a series of complex and interwoven mechanisms relating to a persons genetic make up and their exposure to certain risks. Understanding what causes cancer is essential in order to prevent, detect and successfully treat the disease. An individual's risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, lifestyle and genetic make-up. Research suggests that up to half of all cancers in the UK could be avoided if people made changes to their lifestyle, such as stopping smoking, moderating alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy bodyweight and avoiding excessive sun exposure. Cigarette smoking has been identified as the single most important cause of preventable death in the UK: overall, more than a quarter of all deaths from cancer (including almost 90% of lung cancer deaths) It is estimated that, in the UK, current levels of overweight and obesity could lead to around 19,000 cases of cancer each year. Research suggests that each of the following increase the risk of certain cancers: alcohol consumption, a low fiber diet, low consumption of fruit and vegetables, high consumption of red and processed meats and higher intake of salt or saturated fats. Excessive exposure to UV radiation (from the sun or sun beds) is the most important modifiable risk factor for skin cancers. A small number of infectious agents, especially certain viruses, play a key role in causing certain types of cancer. It is estimated that inherited factors cause up to 10% of all cancers. Factors such as the age at which a women has her first child and number of children, affect risk of the most common female cancers.



Top of page