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Cancer is a condition where cells in a part of your body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.

Cancer sometimes begins in one part of your body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis.

More than 1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.

In Ireland, the 5 most common types of cancer are:

  • prostate cancer

  • breast cancer

  • bowel cancer

  • lung cancer

  • skin cancer


There are more than 200 different types of cancer. Each type is diagnosed and treated in their own way.

Spotting signs of cancer

Changes to your body's normal processes or unexplained symptoms can be early signs of cancer.

Symptoms you should ask a GP to check include:

  • a new lump/bump that appears on your body

  • a changing lump or bump

  • unexplained bleeding

  • changes on your skin

  • losing weight without trying

  • constantly tired

  • changes to your bowel habits

  • a new, persistent cough


Often, your symptoms will not have anything to do with cancer. They'll be caused by other, non-cancerous health conditions.

Reducing your risk of cancer

Changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on reducing your risk of developing cancer.

You can reduce your risk by:


You cannot reduce your risk of cancer completely. But you could prevent common cancers by staying healthy.

Take part in cancer screening programmes. These can help diagnose the early stages of cancer, or find and treat conditions that can lead to cancer:


Read more about screening and vaccinations

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Useful Links & Resources

This content of this page (and links to other sites) is for general information purposes only and does not substitute medical advice. While we endeavour to keep this website up-to-date, errors may occur. We advise all patients to discuss their health concerns with their GP. If you would like to suggest amendments or highlight new information that could be useful to others please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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