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Spotting cancer early saves lives

20th November 2014 Press Release - Camden launches campaign to turn the ‘Big C’ into a ‘small c’

Camden launches campaign to turn the ‘Big C’ into a ‘small c’

The NHS in Camden has launched a major public awareness campaign to increase cancer survival in the borough by diagnosing a higher proportion of patients at an early stage, when most people survive the disease. Too many Camden residents continue to be diagnosed at a late stage, when cancer is much more difficult to treat successfully.

The objective of the ‘small c’ campaign is to turn cancer from the ‘Big C’ into a ‘small c’, a serious but not fatal disease, for a growing proportion of patients. The campaign is giving people the facts about cancer screening and symptoms, to improve their chances of being diagnosed at an early stage, if they have or develop the disease.

As part of the NHS campaign, Abbey Community Centre Kilburn, the African Health Forum, the Bengali Workers Association, Green Light Pharmacy, London Tigers, North London Cares and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation in partnership with Arsenal in the Community, are working with Camden residents to promote the possible signs and symptoms of cancer, and the benefits of free cancer screening tests.

Residents urged to act on symptoms promptly

“It’s important to get to know your body and what’s normal for you, and to see your GP promptly about any unexplained change,” explains Camden GP and Cancer Lead, Dr Lucia Grun.  “It's entirely reasonable to see your GP about any unexplained symptom; it may be mild, and it’s probably nothing serious, but it could be the warning sign of cancer that saves your life.

“It’s important to stop cancer before it has time to spread to other parts of the body, so don’t wait for a symptom to get worse before you see your GP. Most people survive early stage cancer, but that's not true of late stage cancer. While 9 out of 10 people survive early stage bowel and breast cancers, for example, sadly only 1 out of 10 people survives these cancers at a late stage.  You’re not wasting anyone’s time by getting a symptom checked out – seeing your GP promptly really could save your life. Even if you’ve had a symptom for some time, it’s still important to see your GP.

“Also, it’s worth remembering that you can ask to see a male or female GP, and you’re very welcome to bring someone in with you when you have your appointment.” 

9 out of 10 cancers are diagnosed in people aged 50 and over

The ‘small c’ is focusing on people aged 50 and over, who are the age group most at risk of getting cancer – accounting for almost nine out of ten cases of the disease. 

Innovative ‘symptoms checker’ gives residents two simple rules to follow

Camden residents are being given innovative ‘symptom checker’ cards with a checklist of the key symptoms to look out for.  If they can tick any one of the boxes, they are being asked to show the card to their GP as soon as possible.

The symptom checker gives members of the public two simple rules to follow when they have a change in their body that is unexplained:

  1. Act straight away on any of the following symptoms:
  • Blood when you cough; blood in your poo or pee; bleeding from the back passage; bleeding from the vagina after menopause, between periods, or after sex
  • Lump or swelling in any part of your body – most commonly, the breast, underarm, testicle, tummy, groin, chest area, neck or face
  • Increase in the size of a mole, or a change in its shape or colour
  • Change in your nipple, skin or shape of your breast, or having a lump
  1. Act after 3 weeks of any symptom below:
  • Cough or change in a long-standing cough
  • Looser poo or more frequent bowel motions; needing to pee often, or suddenly; pain or difficulty peeing
  • Ulcer in your mouth, difficulty swallowing, or a hoarse/croaky voice
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Bloating, indigestion, trapped wind or heartburn
  • Pain or ache in any part of your body that doesn’t go away
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite for no apparent reason
  • Breathlessness; breathlessness worse than usual; feeling tired and run down