In a cruel twist of irony, it seems that our ability to live longer has actually led to an increase in cancer risks. Cancer Research UK reported that increases in life expectancies due to modern medicine mean that more individuals will be affected by cancer — one in two individuals living in Britain to be exact. The figure was based on a new calculation method developed by the nonprofit organization and has replaced the previous one in three predictions, the BBC reported.

Although the news is bleak, doctors emphasize that this prediction is not inevitable, and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and losing weight can severely cut one's chances of developing cancer. For cancers that cannot be prevented, early detection plays a key role in cancer survival. Although only a doctor can diagnose cancer, Cancer Research UK recently released its 10 Cancer "Alarm" Symptoms in the hopes of making the public more aware of their body, so they don't ignore potentially cancerous symptoms.

Cancer risks have risen in both genders, although slightly higher for males. The report predicted that 54 percent of men would go on to develop cancer compared to just fewer than 48 percent of women. Prostate cancer remains the most common cancer among men, and breast common is most common among women. There also seems to be a rise in cancers caused by largely preventable conditions. For example, the study noted that the prevalence of obesity was linked to an increase in esophageal tumors, most likely caused by obesity-related acid reflux. The widespread popularity of the human papillomavirus (HPV) was also linked to increases in head, neck, and oral cancers.

Early detection is key to cancer survival, since many types of cancers, such as skin and cervical cancer, are nearly 100 percent curable if caught in the precancerous stages. The good news is that cancer survival rates are the highest they’ve ever been, and researchers believe that early detection played an integral part in the improvement. To stay aware, brush up on the Cancer Research UK's list of the 10 most common early signs of cancer below:

10 Red Flag Symptoms That Could Mean You Have Cancer

  • Persistent cough or hoarseness
  • A change in the appearance of a mole
  • A persistent change in bowel habits
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Persistent difficulty swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent change in bladder habits
  • An unexplained lump
  • Persistent unexplained pain
  • Unexplained bleeding

Unfortunately, a British study found that many brush off these symptoms as inconsequential. Of the 900 people surveyed as part of the study, an overwhelming 53 percent reported at least one of the 10 red flag symptoms in the last three months. Of those who reported experiencing the symptoms, 45 percent had not seen their doctor about their symptoms. Dr. Richard Roope from Cancer Research UK told the Daily Mail that he advises his patients: When in doubt, check it out.

“Often your symptoms won't be caused by cancer, but if they are, the quicker the diagnosis, the better the outcome,” he said.

Source: Whitaker KL, Scott SE, Winstanley K, Macleod U, Wardle J. Attributions of Cancer ‘Alarm’ Symptoms in a Community Sample. PLOS ONE. 2014.