Frequently asked questions about cancer


How do I know if I have cancer?

There are about 200 cancers. Some have early and clear symptoms. Others are not detected until the cancer disease has developed and spread in the body. Maybe you have symptoms that usually have nothing to do with cancer, but that can have it.

Contact a health care center if you have new symptoms that do not go over and that you do not find any explanation for, for example:

  • general feeling of illness
  • great fatigue
  • anorexia
  • greater accidental weight loss
  • prolonged fever
  • pain .

You can contact many receptions by logging in .

Contact a health care provider immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

  • a lump somewhere on the body, such as a  lump in the chest
  • blood in the stool
  • blood in the urine
  • difficult to start urinating and need to go to the toilet more often
  • bloody expenses
  • difficult to swallow
  • bleeding from the abdomen after menopause.

The symptoms may be due to something other than cancer but take them seriously so that you can be notified and any treatment. 

If you have anemia, for example at a health check, contact a health care provider immediately. 

Can I protect myself from cancer?

No one can say exactly why cancer occurs. Thus, it is not possible to completely protect against cancer, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of cancer. Here are some examples:

  • Avoid smoking .
  • Drink moderate or no alcohol .
  • Avoid sweet drinks.
  • Sunbath gently and avoid sunbathing.
  • Keep the weight .
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables .
  • Eat less or none of red meat and meats.
  • Move.

Some cancers can be detected early through controls. Such controls are called screening.

You will be called by the health service if you are part of the population that is offered a certain screening. Examples are mammography screening against breast cancer and cell sampling against cervical cancer that womenof certain ages are called. Participate every time you are called. The chance is greater of getting rid of the cancer if it is detected early.

Cell sampling is important even if you have been vaccinated against HPV virus . There are several forms of HPV viruses that can cause cell changes that can cause cervical cancer. The vaccine protects against the most important forms, but not against all. 

How does cancer occur?

The body consists of many billions of cells. The cells divide to form new cells so that the body can function. Sometimes it gets wrong when a cell divides. Usually it does nothing or the cell can stop the error from spreading to more cells at the next cell division. But sometimes it doesn’t work. Then more and more altered cells can be formed for each cell division. Eventually, cancer cells can be formed. The cancer cells divide uncontrollably and do not die when they should.

Many cancers mean that the cancer cells form a cancerous tumor. For example, in blood cancer no tumors are formed.

Cancer does not infect. 

How common is cancer?

Cancer has become more common, especially as we grow older. 

Who gets cancer?

Everyone can get cancer. Children can also get cancer, although it is unusual.

Most people with cancer are over 65 years of age. This is partly due to the fact that aging itself affects the cells, and partly because it takes a long time for a cell change to develop into cancer.

Is cancer hereditary?

Five to ten percent of all people with cancer have fallen ill due to heredity. This means that they have a particular gene change that they inherited from one of their genetic parents.

Everyone with such a gene change does not get sick, but the risk is higher. 

You can get preventative treatment or go on frequent checks if an investigation shows that you have an inherited increased risk of cancer.

Contact a health care center for referral to a cancer genetic clinic if you have many close, genetic relatives who have had cancer. You can also contact a cancer genetic reception yourself. Cancer genetic receptions are available at the university hospitals.

How many get rid of the cancer?

Four out of five children who get cancer survive. Several cancers in adults also have a good prognosis, especially if the cancer is detected early. The chance of getting rid of a cancer disease increases the sooner it is discovered.

There is a lot of research going on and new treatments are coming. This means that more and more people who become ill can get rid of the cancer or live a good life for a long time even if the cancer cannot be removed. 

When can you say you are healthy?

There is always a risk that some cancer cells will survive the treatment and the disease will return, sometimes after a long time. Therefore, the healthcare professional often uses the word finished rather than healthy or cured.

The risk of recurrence decreases sharply after five to ten years, depending on how the disease looked from the beginning. Therefore, it is common for post-checkups to be needed in the first few years after treatment is complete.

It is important that you contact the healthcare provider yourself if you experience symptoms between the post-checks or after the post-checks have ceased.

It may take time before you feel healthy, even if the treatment has gone well and the disease is gone. Your body may need to recover and you may feel vulnerable after what you have been through. Eventually it usually feels better.

Or you will feel healthy as soon as the treatment is complete, although life may not be exactly as it was before the cancer message.

What if you can’t get well?

Sometimes there is no treatment that can remove the cancer. Then you instead receive care that can slow down and relieve the disease. It is called palliative care. Many people who have an incurable cancer can live a long life with such care.

Where can I find out more?

You can read more about what the research knows about cancer preventionon the Cancer Foundation’s website  .


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