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Image shows two people and text that says Spot the Difference? Lung Cancer doesn't discriminate. Nor do we. We're here to spot the difference. Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

Spot the Difference and take action

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Champions

Early symptoms of lung cancer can be subtle and easy to ignore. A bit of breathlessness is put down to being a bit out of shape. Lack of energy can be caused by anything from poor diet to low mood. And a persistent cough? Well, we all know what springs to mind when we hear a cough nowadays.

A new awareness campaign from Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation aims to help people ‘spot the difference’ in their health, identifying symptoms which are unusual for them and encourage and reassure them to take action.

Spot the Difference highlights many of different lung cancer symptoms including a persistent cough, breathlessness, weight loss and fatigue and how they can masquerade in every day activities. It also features a variety of patients who spotted differences in their health, were diagnosed early and went on to have curative intent treatment.

To find out more about the campaign and potential symptoms, visit spotthedifference

Image shows two people and text that says Spot the Difference? Lung Cancer doesn't discriminate. Nor do we. We're here to spot the difference. Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
An image of Katy Connolly. She has long brown hair and is smiling at the camera.

Finding HPV during a cervical screening: Katy’s story

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Champions | No Comments

After a routine cervical screening test, Katy received a letter saying she had abnormal cells. As a Cancer Champion, Katy is now sharing her experience to help tackle the fears some women and people with a cervix may be experiencing about cervical screening.

An image of Katy Connolly. She has long brown hair and is smiling at the camera.

After a routine cervical screening, Katy received a letter saying she had abnormal cells and HPV.

“Following a routine cervical screening test, I was shocked to receive a feedback letter saying I had abnormal cells and HPV virus. It seemed very sinister and I was worried; how had I got HPV?!

I was then asked to go to Hull Royal for a colposcopy, which made me feel very nervous, as I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I arrived, however, the whole team made me feel at ease as soon as I walked in.

Before the colposcopy examination, I spoke with a consultant who explained more about the HPV virus… that it was very normal, and that I had most likely had it for years. By keeping a close eye on the cells and removing tiny amounts of them if required, it can ultimately stop the development of cancerous cells. There was no suggestion to say that I would develop cancerous cells if the HPV was left untreated – but it was a great way to prevent it from happening.

An illustration of a woman attending a colposcopy appointment. She is on a hospital bed with legs in supports while a health professional assess her cervix through a colposcope which connects to a screen showing the cervix.

By keeping a close eye on the cells and removing tiny amounts of them if required, a colposcopy can ultimately stop the development of cancerous cells. [Image from Jo’s Trust]

The colposcopy was just like a cervical screening test, conducted by a specialist who viewed the cervix and took a tiny biopsy of the cells (which didn’t hurt at all) which were then sent off for analysis. I received a letter a few weeks later to say the abnormal cells had been examined and were not cancerous, so I would continue to have yearly smears to keep an eye on things.

The following year, when I returned for a smear test, I was referred for another colposcopy. This time, the consultant advised that they would remove some of the cells there and then – which was good because I didn’t have time to overthink it! Again, it was painless – just a little uncomfortable for a matter of seconds. The procedure was very quick. After using a local anaesthetic on the cervix (which also didn’t hurt) he used a device with a heated thin wire loop, which quickly removed a tiny amount of the abnormal cells.

Before I knew it, I was sat in a comfy chair, drinking a cup of tea, and eating a biscuit! I didn’t experience any pain when the anaesthetic wore off. I just had to avoid exercise for 3-4 weeks (other than walking).

I’ve just had another smear, and the HPV virus is still present, but there are no abnormal cells, so I’m being referred for a colposcopy again.

I’m very grateful for the cervical screening system – it is empowering to know that by attending the routine smear tests and colposcopies, I’m doing everything I can to monitor my health, which benefits both me and my family.”

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening (previously known as a smear test) is a test to check the health of your cervix, which is the opening to your womb from your vagina. It’s not a test for cancer; it’s a test to help prevent cancer.

In England, all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited to regular appointments by letter. During each appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix to check for human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix.

To find out more about the cervical screening programme and how attending your appointment can help prevent cancer, visit

An image of the van used for lung health checks in Hull. It's a large white trailer with a blue swirl design, and it features the Siemens and Healthineers logos.

Targeted Lung Health Checks are back and they have never been more important

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Alliance
Image of Dr Stuart Baugh standing in front of a brick wall. Stuart is wearing a suit and is looking at the camera smiling.

Dr Stuart Baugh, Programme Director
Lung Health Checks in Hull

Lung Health Checks in Hull are back following a temporary pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all those involved, we have been able to resume the Targeted Lung Health Check programme and introduce COVID-19 measures to ensure staff and patient safety.

The programme, which aims to diagnose lung cancer early, started its phased return in April and will play a key role in improving outcomes for people at high risk of developing lung cancer or other respiratory diseases.

It has been an incredibly difficult time for cancer services recently and our challenge of diagnosing lung cancer early, when treatment can be simpler and more successful, has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

At the peak of the pandemic, the number of cancer referrals dropped by 60% and although they have recovered well in general, lung cancer has been one of the slowest to recover.

A national ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign which ran between February and May has helped to encourage people with a persistent cough to contact their GP, but there can often be no symptoms during the earliest stage of lung cancer, so it is important to also identify and diagnose those at highest risk of developing the disease.

The Targeted Lung Health Check Programme invites people who are between the ages of 55 to less than 75, are current or previous smokers, live in Hull and are registered with a Hull GP, to take part in a free NHS Lung Health Check.

Eligible participants take part in a telephone assessment with a specially trained nurse and those reaching the risk score threshold are then invited to attend a low dose CT scan on board a mobile unit, which is currently situated at Castle Hill Hospital. You can find out more about Lung Health Check appointments in the video below:

Thee image shows a man stood in a kitchen coughing into a tissue. The text reads A cough that lasts three weeks or more could be a warning sign, just contact your GP practice if you've had a cough for three weeks or more and it isn't covid. Don't ignore it. It's probably nothing serious but it could be a sign of cancer. The graphic is used as part of a Help Us Help You Campaign

We have seen the potential impact of this programme from its initial launch in January 2020. The service ran for five weeks and during that time it welcomed over 900 participants, helped to identify a number of cancers at an early stage and referred over 100 people to local stop smoking services.

As we continue to accelerate Lung Health Checks in Hull, I am incredibly optimistic that we can make a difference to lung cancer outcomes and address some of the health inequalities that exist across our region.

There is a great enthusiasm for this programme both nationally and across the Humber, Coast and Vale area, and as we collaboratively work to roll out NHS Lung Health Checks further, I am looking forward to ensuring more people can benefit from a programme that is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions for cancer.

Dr Stuart Baugh
Programme Director
Targeted Lung Health Checks in Hull

Under 16s invited to share cancer experiences to help improve services

By | Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments

A new survey to help understand and improve the care and experience for children under the age of 16 in care and treatment for cancer launched in April.

The Under 16 Cancer Patient Experience Survey builds on the work of the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, understanding that cancer care pathways and care priorities for children often differ from adults’.

The results from the survey, available in summer 2021, will provide the first national-level insight into the experiences of children with cancer and will inform how the NHS delivers cancer services going forward.

Commissioners, providers and national policymakers will use the results to assess performance both locally and nationally, to help identify priority areas for enhancing children’s cancer services. The aim is to radically improve the outcomes for children and young people affected by cancer.

The survey, which began implementation across England from April 2021, invites children under 16 who received NHS cancer care during 2020 and their parents or carers to participate. They will be able to complete a paper questionnaire or an online version of the survey on any device.

Patient experience is extremely important to the NHS and the need for personalised care and treatment is well recognised. By contributing to the survey, young people and their parents or carers will help the NHS to continue to improve its services and better support children and young people living with and beyond cancer.

For more information on the survey visit

Sharon, who was diagnosed with breast cancer after learning about the symptoms during a Cancer Champion Awareness Session. She has cheekbone length light brown hair and wears black square glasses. She is looking to the right and slightly smiling.

‘Learning about cancer saved my life’: Sharon’s story

By | Cancer Champions | No Comments

‘If I hadn’t done the Cancer Champion training, where would I be? Learning about cancer saved my life.’

Sharon Hornsby, a Contact Officer with Humberside Police, received treatment for early stage breast cancer after a free awareness session prompted her to book an appointment with her GP.

In March 2019, Sharon took part in a 90 minute Cancer Champion awareness session at her work place. The session, hosted by Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance, taught the early signs of cancer, promoted national screening programmes and encouraged early detection of cancer. During the training, Sharon identified with one of the symptoms shown on a Know Your Lemons poster and decided to contact her GP.

She said: “Each lemon on the poster represented a symptom of breast cancer we should keep an eye out for, such as a dimple, skin sores, or a new shape or size. Upon looking, I realised my right nipple was on that poster!”

The Know Your Lemons poster, which uses lemons to demonstrate some of the symptoms of breast cancer. This includes changes to skin thickness, a lump, a sunken nipple, and more.

Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer after recognising her symptoms on a Know Your Lemons poster.

“I quickly got in touch with my GP as my nipple had been inverted for approximately three months and because I was 48 at the time, I wasn’t eligible for the national breast screening programme. My GP was brilliant and, within 14 days, I was sent to Castle Hill Hospital for a mammogram. A few weeks later I received the news that I had stage two breast cancer.”

Sharon went on to receive treatment for cancer at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and in July 2020, was given the all-clear from cancer. Sharon is now encouraging others to take part in free Cancer Champion training and to take note of what is normal for them.

She said: “Learning about cancer saved my life. If I’d not attended that Cancer Champion training session, I would have carried on oblivious to anything going on inside my body. Also, because my tumours were deep within the breasts, I would have never felt them from routine checking at home.

“I would encourage everyone to attend the Cancer Champion training. Not just for personal reasons, but to be there for your colleagues, friends and family too. If I hadn’t seen the Know Your Lemons poster, if I hadn’t done the Cancer Champion training, where would I be?”

Image of Dr Dan Cottingham who is the GP Lead for Cancer at Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance. The image shows Dan standing in front of a brick wall, wearing a shirt and tie. He is wearing glasses and is smiling.

Dr Dan Cottingham, CRUK Primary Care Lead

Dr Dan Cottingham, CRUK Primary Care Lead for Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance said: “The Alliance is really pleased to have supported Sharon’s journey to early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. By teaching people about the early signs of cancer, the Cancer Champion programme aims to encourage people to talk about cancer and promote early detection.

“It’s important to be aware of the early signs of cancer and to know what’s normal for you, so that you can spot any symptoms that are unusual, persistent and/or unexplained. If you are worried about a symptom that might be cancer, please contact your GP without delay. As Sharon’s experience highlights, cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed early.”

People living in the Humber, Coast and Vale region, including Hull, East Yorkshire, Scarborough, York, Grimsby and Scunthorpe can become a Cancer Champion by taking part in a free 90 minute virtual session. To find out more and sign up, visit

Image of the breast cancer screening unit at Castle Hill Hospital. The unit white and decorated with the NHS logo and 'Humberside Breast Screening Unit' title

Local Cancer Champion encourages others to ‘go and get checked’ after attending a breast screening appointment

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Champions | No Comments

“Go and get checked. The staff know it is a frightening time, but be assured they are equipped to deal with your fears and help you every step of the way.”

After recently attending a breast screening appointment at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull, Jennie Salisbury, a 54 year old wife, mother, nanna, and Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Champion is now urging others to do the same after hearing concerns that the fear of Covid-19 may be deterring people from attending.

Jennie said: I received a letter inviting me to a breast screening appointment back in January. Initially I was a little hesitant about going because I have been anxious to venture out during lockdown, but then I remembered the promise I made to my sister, who died from breast cancer, that I would never miss an appointment.

The national breast screening programme invites women between the ages of 50 and 70 to have their breasts screened every three years. At the start of the pandemic, the programme was temporarily paused across Humber, Coast and Vale however, the service has now resumed and safety measures have been put in place to protect both staff and patients.

Jennie said: “I noticed a lot of safety measures in place at the breast screening unit. Hand sanitisers were available and there was a lot of distance between the chairs. When called through for my appointment, the Technician was busy sanitising the equipment and during every part of the procedure she sanitised her hands. The whole appointment took 15 mins and within half an hour I was back home.”

Photo of Jennie. Jennie has blonde hair and wears glasses. She looking at the camera and smiling. Jennie is wearing a black jumper.

Jennie was pleased to receive all clear results within a week of her appointment and is now advising other women to attend, when invited. Jennie said: “My advice is to go and get checked. The staff know it is frightening times but be assured they are equipped to deal with your fears and talk to you every step of the way. Having previously attended Cancer Champion training, I know how important it is to attend cancer screening appointments and I hope that by sharing my experience, other women will feel assured about attending screening during COVID-19.”

In this video, Hull CCG GP Dr Amy Oehring explains why attending a breast screening is so important:

To learn more about the early signs and symptoms of cancer, sign up for a free 90 minute Cancer Champion awareness session or click here to find out more.

Free ‘Cancer Demystified’ Webinars for Secondary Care Professionals

By | Cancer Alliance | No Comments

Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance is pleased to offer free Cancer Demystified webinar training for staff working in cancer services at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.

Cancer Demystified training aims to provide both clinical and non-clinical colleagues with a wider understanding of cancer and the associated terminology. The sessions, which can be accessed online and last around 60 minutes, help build confidence to have potentially difficult conversations about cancer with those affected by it. Each webinar covers a different topic, from the staging and grading of cancer and how chemotherapy works, to in-depth descriptions of different cancer types and more. A link to the full list of modules can be found here.

The free sessions are available to Trust staff working in cancer services until 31st March 2022.

For more information and to sign up, email

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