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Survival Rates Improve as Cancer Volunteers Spread the Message

 

Cancer survival rates in North East Lincolnshire have improved year on year partly owing to a successful volunteer project funded by the NHS.

The Cancer Collaborative, managed by Care Plus Group and funded by North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), raises awareness of cancer symptoms within local communities and encourages people to visit their GP as soon as they experience signs of suspected cancer.

The latest data shows that cancer survival rates in the area have improved by 2% during 2007 to 2011, during which time the project has gone from strength to strength.

Around 40 volunteers work in teams to spread the word about cancer symptoms at community groups, children’s centres, employers, supermarkets, Post Offices, GP surgeries and local events. Each team specialises in a particular cancer but all have the knowledge to give people the facts about cancer and signpost people to their GP for medical advice.

Jan Wilson, volunteer for the Cancer Collaborative in Immingham, thinks that some people find it easier to talk to local people without a medical background about cancer symptoms.

“The Cancer Collaborative is all about getting out there and talking to people about the signs and symptoms of cancer, from bowel cancer to prostate, breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. Many people who we speak to aren’t aware of the early signs which, if treated quickly, could have a massive impact on someone’s life.

“The team I’m part of specialises in the symptoms of bowel cancer, so we talk to people about the importance of screening focussing on the target age group of 60 – 74. We’re here to encourage people to complete the kit and to discuss any concerns with their doctor, even if they are embarrassed.

“If just one person visits their doctor after speaking to us, catches cancer early and gets the treatment they need, we’ve achieved what we want to.”

Dr Arun Nayyar, lead GP for planned care at North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The work of the Cancer Collaborative is invaluable in North East Lincolnshire. The volunteers are able to talk to people in the heart of communities about cancer and the importance of being diagnosed and treated early.

“We’ve seen a 67% increase in suspected prostate cancer referrals, a 50% increase in suspected bowel cancer referrals and a 28% increase in gynaecological referrals. Our cervical and bowel cancer screening rates are above the national average too, which I’m confident is partly owing to the volunteers.

“Initially this programme was introduced to improve early cancer diagnosis rates in deprived communities but it’s proved so successful that we have funded the Care Plus Group to deliver the Cancer Collaborative programme across Grimsby, Cleethorpes and surrounding villages.

“If you see the volunteers in your community I would strongly recommend talking to them about cancer symptoms; they have a wealth of information to help you know when you should see a doctor for medical support.”

Julie Grimmer, Health & Wellbeing Collaborative Programme Manager for Care Plus Group, said they’re always looking for new volunteers to join the collaborative.

“Volunteers can offer as much or as little support as they like and everyone gets the training they need to give people the facts about cancer. We’re here to offer volunteers the support and guidance they need so if you’d like to make a difference, please get in touch!”

Find out more about the Cancer Collaborative at www.collaboratives.org.uk, or contact Julie Grimmer on 01472 232261 or julie.grimmer@nhs.net

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