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Tuesday 25th October 2016

People dying needlessly from cancer

14th April 2010

Professor Nick Lemoine from the Barts Cancer Centre and Institute says patients need to be more proactive and face their fears in the fight against cancer.


Our new Barts cancer centre benefits from some of the finest equipment and staff in the world, but we are fighting a losing battle if people ignore their symptoms.

A significant number of the 10,000 people a year in England dying needlessly from cancer within five years of diagnosis is due to patients not presenting earlier with symptoms.

Late diagnosis is a particular challenge for Barts and The London NHS Trust, which serves some of the most deprived communities in Britain.

To encourage people to come forward earlier, we must change people’s attitudes and dispel myths and preconceptions about cancer.

Deprived communities generally have poorer health and with lower levers of health knowledge there is poor uptake of health services, particularly for breast cancer screening where ethnicity may be a factor.

Working with communities to spread the message is important through outreach into pubs and community events.

Links with mosques, temples and faith groups are important. During Ramadan, for example, there was a spike in missed screening appointments as Muslim patients focused on their religious obligations.

That changed after we worked with local imams who reminded congregations of the importance of looking after their health by attending scheduled appointments.

While we are proud of our centre at Barts, education, communication and reassurance are equally important if we are to be successful in tackling this disease and healthcare professionals need to continue to explore imaginative ways of raising awareness of symptoms and the importance of screening.


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