Dr David Crichton: Working together to raise awareness of Cancer

World Cancer Day: Working together to raise awareness of Cancer

On World Cancer Day, Dr David Crichton calls for Doncaster folk to #BeCancerSAFE.

In Doncaster, like many areas across the country, we know we face challenges in preventing, detecting and tackling cancer.

Working with the South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire Cancer Alliance, we are working hard to raise awareness of Cancer amongst key groups of people to help prevent and detect cancer as early as possible. The #BeCancerSAFE campaign has a clear message – knowing the signs and symptoms and taking early action:

  • S – Safe (being clear on changes and acting early)
  • A – Awareness (knowing what to look for and knowing your body)
  • F – Fast (seeking early help and going to see your GP or health professional)
  • E – Easy (making information and advice as easy to understand as possible)

As a GP, I can’t stress enough how important it is to take action if you spot some of the common signs and symptoms of cancer. Some of the most common types include prostate, bowel, breast and lung cancer and by knowing what the symptoms are for each and seeking early advice, there is more chance we can provide the treatment you need, at the right time.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way.

One of the most important pieces of advice is to attend regular screening appointments to check for cancer. A couple of weeks ago, I called for all women in Doncaster to attend their cervical screening checks. Recently published data indicates that cervical screening uptake is at 20-year low, with only around 70% of eligible women accepting their invite.

Nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day in the UK, with around 3,000 cases diagnosed each year, and it is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35. In South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, around one in four women do not attend their routine cervical screening appointment. This is far too high and we need to support and educate women on the importance of attending their appointment. Women who don’t attend their appointments are the most vulnerable in developing more serious complications. Usually there are no symptoms with cervical cancer, so it is only by having a smear test that any abnormal cells within the cervix can be found before they develop into cancer.

And for men, the importance of looking out for and spotting changes in your health is important. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men throughout the UK and knowing what to look for can improve health outcomes if cancer is detected early. If you are over 50yrs of age and needing to rush to the toilet, needing to wee more frequently, feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied after going to the toilet are all common symptoms of prostate cancer.

For people that have been diagnosed with cancer, a new innovative support service has been developed in Doncaster to provide vital support, advice and someone to turn to during and after their treatment.

The new Macmillan ‘Pod’ opened recently in the main outpatient area of Doncaster Royal Infirmary to help those affected by cancer. The Pod has been funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity which helps people affected by cancer throughout their treatment journey. While the facility is now open to the public, further work is nearly complete to create consultation rooms.

The centre provides a friendly, private environment for patients, carers and family members affected by cancer, to access appropriate information and assistance. From managing symptoms to advice on benefits and financial support, the Pod provides a space for expert help and has a wide-range of Macmillan booklets to take-away and is staffed by trained Macmillan volunteers on weekdays between 8.30am and 4.30pm.

In Doncaster, we are making improvements in cancer prevention and care and we know we have a way to go. But by GPs, health and care staff all working together, we continue to tackle the condition and to ensure that patients and people in Doncaster know where to go and who to speak to if they have any concerns or worries that they may have cancer.

Find out more about cancer and follow the conversations globally on twitter using the hashtag #WorldCancerDay.