‘‘Be Cancer Safe

is a social movement that is hoping to

improve cancer survival statistics through the simple art of conversation’’

What’s your first response when you get the ‘dreaded’ cancer screening letter through the post? Do you shrug and ignore it? Act like you’ve been sent junk mail and toss it in the bin? Or do you pull on your brave breeches, call to get booked in and feel relieved once it’s over?

If your answer is the

latter, you’re probably part of the minority in South Yorkshire who actually attends cancer screening appointments. Often due to fear or

embarrassment, fewer people in our area are going to their routine exams or are less likely to see their GP if they have concerns. Months or years later, a rising number end up travelling in desperation to A&E to be told the devastating news that they are within the later stages of cancer, often when treatment is less effective or the outlook is terminal. In a bid to change attitudes in

society, five organisations under the South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire Cancer Alliance have joined forces to spearhead a campaign to stop people being afraid to talk about cancer. Be Cancer Safe is a social

movement that is hoping to improve cancer survival statistics through the simple art of conversation.


CHAMPIONS Whether you’re having

your haircut, attempting to get fitter in the gym or digging up potatoes on the allotment, listen out for Be Cancer Safe’s cancer champions who are doing what they do best – chatting. Through talking and sharing

stories in everyday life, these champions aren’t medical experts,

to register with a GP or they won’t get their screening letters through the post. It could be nagging a work

colleague to get their latest ailment checked out. Or even reassuring younger female friends that a smear test isn’t that awful and it’s over quicker than it takes to blow dry and straighten their hair. While it’s not very British to

talk about poo, make jokes about

getting a bowel cancer screening test on your birthday – where’s the candles and card, NHS? And remember that boobs,

cervixes and lady parts come in all shapes and sizes; the nurse has probably seen them all. Be Cancer Safe is all about

dispelling myths and normalising what happens to make screening more accessible for everyone in the community.

A big part of the scheme is to raise awareness of the different signs and symptoms associated with each of the five main tumour groups along with which of the three screenings, and how often, are available to you.

just ordinary folk who are working to raise awareness and bring it home that, while anyone can be affected by cancer, treatment is easier and more successful in early diagnosis. In Rotherham and Barnsley,

the initiative is being rolled out across the various communities by Voluntary Action Rotherham. Since March, workers and volunteers have been out starting conversations and sharing messages. From chief executives to

labourers, the team have met a mixture of people in everywhere from bingo halls and working men’s clubs to businesses and supermarkets to have a chat over a good cup of tea. They are hoping to drum up

a small army of micro volunteers with the aim that 1,500 cancer champions in each town, each making a small pledge to speak to ten people, will help make a big difference regionally. Being a cancer champion

can be as simple as chaperoning someone to their appointment or telling that person who is never ill

14 In South Yorkshire, more

people are diagnosed with cancer than the UK average and an early detection could mean an increased chance of survival. Yet as few as 53 percent of women in Rotherham and Barnsley attend their breast screening exam and only 41 percent of our community take part in the bowel screening test.

1. BREAST For breast screening, a routine

mammogram is offered to women aged 50 to 70 every three years which can spot cancerous lumps when they are too small to see or feel. In between appointments, it is essential to keep an eye out for any changes to shape, size and density of the breast along with any noticeable differences to the nipple such as discharge, inverting or dimpling around it. While 90 percent of all lumps

aren’t cancerous, being on top of your boob health can improve the outlook if a lump is found to be malignant.

2. CERVICAL Women are also invited to a

cervical screening test, or smear, every three years between the ages of 25 and 49 and every five years between 50 and 64. Bleeding outside of your normal period or after the menopause are warning signs to look out for along with pain and discomfort during intimacy. However, the symptoms aren’t always obvious if any at all which is why screening looks for cell abnormalities.

3. PROSTATE For men, prostate cancer is

the most common in the UK with 40,000 new cases each year. However, there is currently no national screening programme to detect it and men can often need a kick up the backside to see their GP about any warning signs. Many men fear the gloved hand

of a GP and put off visiting for not wanting to experience a Digital Rectal Exam but while there is no single test to diagnose prostate

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