Cancer in Europe: People at risk
How different is cancer awareness throughout Europe?
GM: It’s quite diverse. In the UK the media plays a big role in keeping cancer on the public agenda, especially women’s magazines who do a lot of work on things like breast cancer.
In France as well, cancer is no longer a banned topic of conversation. But still, there are many countries where it remains a taboo, in Italy for example - they just don’t talk about cancer.
What is the connection between social status and the risk of having cancer?
GM: It has been well proven that there is a strong link between social deprivation and cancer. This was first shown in Glasgow where I come from. People who have no jobs, who live poorly, eat unhealthy and spend the little money they have on cigarettes and alcohol have a high risk of getting cancer. And if they do get cancer, the outlook isn't great: the death rates are much higher in socially weak families.
Does an unhealthy lifestyle increase your risk of cancer?
GM: Yes, of course. It is not the only cause but it is one of the factors that increases the possibility of getting breast cancer or lung cancer for example if you smoke. If your children inherit your unhealthy lifestyle then it increases their risk of cancer as well.
So how would you summarise prevention...
GM: For breast cancer it means screening (with MRI if you have damaged genes). For lung cancer: Don't smoke.
And to prevent cervical cancer take precautions such the vaccine for young women and practicing safe sex. We know the answers; we now need to act on them.