Cancer Alliance

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Awareness and Early Diagnosis

An image of Dan Cottingham, Cancer and End of Life Lead at NHS Vale of York

70% drop in Vale of York Cancer referrals as doctors urge people to visit their GP

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Alliance, Diagnostics | No Comments

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and GP Practices from the Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance are working together to ensure cancer services continue safely, urging people not to delay seeking help if they notice any signs and symptoms of cancer.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, across the Vale of York, there has been a 70% reduction in two-week referrals from GP practices to secondary care. A statistic which is extremely worrying to health professionals as they witness fewer patients making appointments to express their health concerns.

Dr Dan Cottingham, Cancer and End of Life Lead at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said:

Cancer hasn’t gone away because of coronavirus. There will still be people in our community experiencing signs and symptoms of cancer such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in their urine, or a change to usual bowel habits - and so it is vital these people contact their GP practice so a doctor can investigate and refer to a specialist if necessary.

GP appointments are still available for patients to talk through any concerns over the phone or via an online video consultation, and are working closely with cancer specialist teams at York and Scarborough hospitals to ensure urgent cases continue to be seen promptly.”

Accessing a GP has changed during the pandemic but GP practices are continuing to provide the same safe care they always have done.

People who are referred into York hospital for treatment or who are already on a course of treatment can expect the same quality of care, the way that care now looks however may have changed due to the restrictions of the pandemic.  York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has redesigned services to enable the safe continuation of quality care during the pandemic.

Laura Milburn, Head of Cancer at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:

It is vital that patients experiencing concerning symptoms, especially those that could be cancer, contact their GPs for assessment during the pandemic.

GP and hospital services have had to change significantly to manage the impact of the pandemic but we want to reassure patients who are referred into our hospitals for investigation that we are still providing the same quality of care, just in a different way, ensuring all the appropriate measures in line with government guidance are in place to keep patients safe when accessing services.”

To support with cancer referrals and ongoing cancer services in the Vale of York area, the Humber, Coast and Vale (HCV) Cancer Alliance has accelerated the procurement of home working stations within our region to report from home during Covid-19.

Dr Oliver Byass, Clinical Director for Radiology, Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance said:

The collaborative reporting solution sits above our independent picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and work stations within our hospitals and will allow us, as individual radiologists, to report the ‘right test first time’ seamlessly across our organisations and this is going to be transformational as to how we work in the future.

Our work in modern radiology is a lot about diagnostics and trying to get the patient diagnosis both safely and as quickly as possible and we are very fortunate that modern radiology, CT, MRI and ultrasound have amazing diagnostic capabilities.”

For more information on seeking help during Covid-19, read our blog on what to do about possible cancer symptoms.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis

March is World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer, or cancer of the ovaries, is one of the most common types of cancer in women. Here you can find the symptoms of ovarian cancer as well as information and support.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • feeling constantly bloated
  • a swollen tummy
  • discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
  • feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
  • needing to pee more often or more urgently than usual

These can be similar to symptoms of other more common conditions, but if you’re worried about any changes in your body, please see your GP.

If you have already seen a GP and your symptoms continue or get worse, go back to them and explain this.

Information and Support

If you would like more information about diagnosis and support, please click on one of the following links.

Macmillan Cancer Support

NHS Website

Target Ovarian Cancer

Related Stories and Media

The Target Ovarian Cancer free symptoms diary is an easy way to accurately record your symptoms and communicate more effectively with your GP.

Click here to download a copy of the Symptom Diary.

Cancer Champion Training

Cancer Champions raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, promote national screening programmes and encourage early detection.

Take part in a free Cancer Champion training session and help up raise awareness this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

For more information and to register your place, click here.

Brain Tumour Awareness Month

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis

March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month.  Almost 11,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year. Here you can find the symptoms of a brain tumour as well as information and support.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a brain tumour depend on where it is in the brain. Common symptoms include:

  • headaches (often worse in the morning and when coughing or straining)
  • fits (seizures)
  • regularly feeling sick or vomiting
  • memory problems or changes in personality
  • weakness, vision problems or speech problems that get worse

If you have symptoms of a brain tumour that don’t go away, make an appointment with your GP.

Information and Support

If you would like more information about diagnosis and support, please click on the following links.

Macmillan Cancer Support

NHS Website

The Brain Tumour Charity

Related Stories and Media

More support for patients diagnosed with a brain tumour

A new support group has been set up to help patients diagnosed with a brain tumour and their carers. Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Living with and Beyond Cancer Team has begun running the monthly sessions to provide practical advice and emotional support to patients and their loved ones. Click here to read more.

Cancer Champion Training

Cancer Champions raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, promote national screening programmes and encourage early detection.

Take part in a free Cancer Champion training session and help us raise awareness of cancer this Brain Tumour Awareness Month.

For more information and to register your place, click here.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis

March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Here you can find the symptoms of prostate cancer as well as information and support.

Symptoms

Most prostate problems are not caused by cancer, but it’s good to be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty peeing (for example, a weak flow or having to strain to start peeing).
  • Needing to pee more often than usual, especially at night.
  • Feeling like you have not completely emptied your bladder after peeing.
  • An urgent need to pee.
  • Blood in the pee or semen.
  • Rarely, pain when peeing or ejaculating.

These symptoms are usually caused by non-cancerous changes in the prostate rather than by cancer. However, if you have any of these symptoms make an appointment with your GP.

Information and Support

If you would like more information about diagnosis and support, please click on the following links.

Macmillan Cancer Support

NHS Website

Prostate Cancer UK

Related Stories and Media

Macmillan has launched the Talking Cancer podcast to be right there with the growing number of people living with and affected by cancer.

In episode 3, Errol talks about his Prostate diagnosis and about how he’s now made it his life’s work to educate men about prostate cancer.

Click here to listen.

Become a Cancer Champion

Cancer Champions raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, promote national screening programmes and encourage early detection.

Take part in a free Cancer Champion training session and help up raise awareness this Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

For more information and to register your place, click here.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The colon is part of the large bowel, which is part of the digestive system. Colon cancer is more common in older people. In the UK, almost 6 in 10 bowel cancer cases (58%) each year are diagnosed in people aged 70 and over. Here you can find the symptoms of colorectal cancer as well as information and support.

Symptoms

The symptoms of bowel cancer may include:

  • blood in, or on, your poo (stool) or bleeding from the back passage (rectum) – the blood may be bright red or dark
  • a change in your normal bowel habit that happens for no obvious reason and lasts longer than 3 weeks – for example, diarrhoea or constipation
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain in your tummy (abdomen) or back passage
  • feeling that you have not emptied your bowel properly after you poo
  • unexplained tiredness, dizziness or breathlessness
  • a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia)
  • an itchy bottom, although this is rare.

Some people start by seeing their GP after experiencing symptoms. But there are other ways you may be diagnosed:

NHS Bowel Screening

If you have any symptoms or notice anything that is unusual for you see your GP straight away.

Information and Support

If you would like more information about diagnosis and support, please click on the following links.

Macmillan Cancer Support

NHS Website

Bowel Cancer UK

Related Stories and Media

Ian’s Story

Ian was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in 2013 but seven years on, Ian is now in remission with ongoing treatment.

Thank you to Ian for sharing his inspirational story.

Cancer Champion Training

Cancer Champions raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, promote national screening programmes and encourage early detection.

Take part in a free Cancer Champion training session and help up raise awareness this Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

For more information and to register your place, click here.

Championing conversations about cancer

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Champions

Having recently taken part in Cancer Champion training, Beccy Suddes quickly put what she had learned into practice by engaging in conversations that would help raise cancer awareness with her family and friends.

Within a week, Beccy and her three daughters had signed up to the Coppafeel text reminder service and conversed about how to spot the early signs and symptoms of cancer. Beccy said:

“Since attending my training session with Sarah at Haxby last week, I have signed my three daughters, 22, 20 and 19, and myself up to the Coppafeel text reminder service and tweeted Oddballs to find out if their Self check app will be available on iOS so that my son and hubby can sign up.  They said it would hopefully be available soon and in the meantime, I have got the boys to agree to check themselves when I remind them when I get my reminder.

I love to talk to people and will use the information from my Cancer Champion training to help make talking about cancer and spotting the early signs part of normal family conversations.”

Cancer Champion training sessions teach people about the key facts, statistics, symptoms and screenings which are linked to a number of cancers. Click here to reserve your place on an upcoming session or to find out more about the Cancer Champion programme.

Click here to register for Coppafeel text reminder service.

Click here to view the OddBalls guide to checking yourself for testicular cancer.

 

Celebrating the start of lung health checks in Hull

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis

An event to celebrate the start of Lung Health Checks in Hull took place at the KCOM Stadium on Friday 24th January, with around 80 people in attendance.

The ceremony began with introductory speeches from Phil Mettam, Chair of the Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance, and Dr Stuart Baugh, Programme Director for NHSE Targeted Lung Health Check Programme. A short film explaining what the programme hoped to achieve was followed by addresses by the Deputy Director (Operations) for the NHS Cancer Programme, before those in attendance were invited to tour the Lung Health Check mobile unit, which will be used to carry out the lung health checks in various communities in Hull throughout 2020 and 2021.

The video from the Celebration event to mark the start of this new Service can be viewed here.

To find out more about lung health checks in Hull, visit www.lunghealthcheck.org.uk

 

Dr Stuart Baugh, Programme Director, NHSE Targeted Lung Health Check Programme in Hull

Phil Mettam, Chair of Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance

Lung Health Check Respiratory Nurses, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Lung Health Check Mobile Unit

Raising Awareness: Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

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

The 20th – 26th of January was Cervical Cancer Prevention week, an initiative set-up by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance used Cervical Cancer Prevention Week as an opportunity to go out and about across our area raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.

Community Displays
We went out into the community and talked to people about the importance of taking up cervical screening invitations and booking their smear test at their GPs. We also wanted to understand the reason why women didn’t always take up their appointments.

Reasons, which included not having someone to look at their children, whilst they went for their screening appointment.  We talked to local nurseries who offered free childcare for those who needed it in order to attend.

Training Sessions

Our Cancer Champion team delivered awareness training sessions at a number of schools and colleges and also visited community venues to talk about cervical cancer and HPV.

Raising Awareness Online
We also ran a week long social media campaign to #endsmearfear and #smearforsmear providing information and advice for those worried about making an appointment and breaking the myths of cervical cancer and screening.

Time to Test

We were delighted that three employers across our area signed up to Jo’s Trust’s Time to Test pledge – Vale of York CCG, Unity Health and Photo My Product which encourages employees to attend their cervical screening appointment by giving them time to test. 

All three organisations extended the time to test pledge to bowel and breast screening.

All women aged 25 to 49 are offered a cervical screening test every three years, with those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every five years.

What are the signs and symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

You should visit your doctor if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding during or after sex
  • Bleeding after you have been through the menopause
  • Any unpleasant vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort or pain during sex

These symptoms may also be signs of other common conditions and do not necessarily mean you have cancer, but should always be checked.

How can you reduce your risk of cervical cancer?
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust wants to ensure that all women and people with a cervix know how cervical cancer can be reduced. This means:

  • Attending cervical screening when invited
  • Knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any
  • Taking up the HPV vaccination if aged 11-18
  • Knowing where to find support and further information

Modern screening can be more personalised and convenient to save lives says new report

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis | No Comments

The NHS has the opportunity to upgrade cancer screening to save thousands more lives each year, a major report said today.

Leading expert Professor Sir Mike Richards was jointly commissioned by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock to make recommendations on overhauling national screening programmes, as part of a new NHS drive for earlier diagnosis and improved cancer survival.

In his report, Sir Mike, who was the NHS’ first cancer director as well as the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, called for people to be given much greater choice over when and where they are screened.

Women should be able to choose appointments at doctors’ surgeries, health centres or locations close to their work during lunchtime or other breaks rather than having to attend their own GP practice.

Local screening services should put on extra evening and weekend appointments for breast, cervical and other cancer checks.

NHS Targeted Lung Health Checks will take place on a mobile unit.

And as people lead increasingly busy lives, local NHS areas should look at ways that they can provide appointments at locations that are easier to access.

The plan for more convenient checks comes as NHS England is gearing up to roll out lung health checks using scanners on trucks in supermarket carparks and other public spaces.

Sir Mike’s report also called for more to be done to drive uptake through social media campaigns and text reminders. And it called for local initiatives that have successfully boosted uptake to be rolled out nationwide.

In South West London where GP practices have been following up with people who did not attend bowel screening phone calls and reminder letters have led to a 12% increase in attendance. Posting in Facebook community groups has led to a 13% increase in first time attendances for breast screening in Stoke-on-Trent over the past four years.

Sir Mike also recommended a major overhaul to the design of screening programmes.

The NHS is currently upgrading the cervical screening programme with the introduction of ‘primary HPV’ which will reduce the number cervical smears that NHS labs need to review.

The bowel screening programme is being upgraded by NHS England with a new easier to use ‘FIT’ poo test.

And the £200 million of extra NHS diagnostics investment announced by the Government will upgrade and replace older mammography and diagnostic imaging equipment.

Initial allocations are being made today to NHS providers with equipment that most needs replacing.

These steps all contribute to the NHS Long Term Plan goal of saving an extra 55,000 lives each year within a decade by catching three quarters of all cancers early when they are easier to treat.

Sir Mike welcomed the work NHS England, NHS Digital, Public Health England and NHSX are doing to upgrade ageing IT systems, adding that this process must continue.

This will help screening continue to change over the next decade, and the NHS needs to evolve to adapt to these changes, including the use of artificial intelligence to free up capacity for NHS staff and develop blood tests to screen for a range of cancers.

In future screening will become more personalised, where appropriate using genetics and other factors to determine the risk people face of developing cancer or other diseases and testing them appropriately.

His report also calls for:

  • Across all screening programmes, patients should receive results within a standard timetable
  • Establishing a single advisory body, bringing together the current functions of the UK National Screening Committee on population screening and NICE on screening for people at elevated risk of serious conditions
  • NHS England to become the single body responsible for commissioning and delivery of screening services, ending any existing confusion on who does what
  • Breast screening providers should aim to invite people at 34-month intervals after their previous appointment so that all participants can be screened within 36 months

Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “Screening programmes are a vital way for the NHS to save more lives through prevention and earlier diagnosis and currently they save around 10,000 lives every year – that is something to be immensely proud of.

“Yet we know that they are far from realising their full potential – people live increasingly busy lives and we need to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to attend these important appointments.

“The recommendations in this report are intended to help deliver the commitments set out in the NHS Long Term Plan and will hopefully save even more lives.”

Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive said: “I’m grateful to Sir Mike for taking on this important assignment. His sensible recommendations keep all that is good about NHS screening services, while rightly setting out a blueprint for more convenient access, upgraded technology, and progressively more tailored approaches to early diagnosis.

“He is also right to point to the need to align the expert advice offered to the NHS, and streamline and simplify accountabilities for operational delivery.”

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said:  

“I would like to record my thanks to Professor Richards for his brilliant report, which brings together a substantial number of recommendations.

“After careful consideration, I can announce that Public Health England, our national public health agency, will host world-class scientific and expert advice on screening, building on its current role as host of the UK National Screening Committee. This expert advice will inform the delivery of national screening services by the NHS.”

Click here to view Professor Sir Mike Richards’ report of the Review of Adult Screening Programmes in England.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis | No Comments

October is breast cancer awareness month, so we ask you to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms we need to talk to our GP about. The signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast(s)
  • bloodstained nipple discharge
  • a lump or swelling in your armpit(s)
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple

Breast cancer can also affect men, with the main symptom being a lump in the breast. Men should also talk to their GP if the nipple or skin around it changes, including an inverted nipple (the nipple is turning inwards), a sore or rash on the nipple, or discharge from the nipple. You should also see your GP about swollen glands in your arm pit.

Early diagnosis saves lives, so act now and talk to your GP if you have any signs or symptoms that you are worried about.

For more information visit the NHS breast cancer pages.

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