I am pleased to announce the Cancer Champion programme has reached a new milestone this week and there are now more than 3,000 ‘Cancer Champions’ helping to increase knowledge and support earlier diagnosis of cancer, thanks to free training provided by Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance.
Early diagnosis is key to improving patient outcomes as treatment can be often simpler and more successful when cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage, however, you don’t need to be from a clinical background to help the NHS achieve its long term plan ambition of diagnosing three out of four people with cancer at an early stage by 2028.
I have seen first-hand how Cancer Champion training, which raises awareness of the signs of cancer and encourages early detection, can be pivotal to improving people’s outcomes across our region:
Sharon Hornsby, a Contact Officer for Humberside Police, received treatment for breast cancer after Cancer Champion training prompted her to contact her GP.
Amanda Eastwood, Senior Early Help Family Support Worker at Hull City Council, encouraged a colleague to take action after they noticed something that was unusual for them, and Jo Cairns, Research Fellow at Hull York Medical School, provided reassurance to someone nervous about attending their first cervical screening appointment. You can read more Cancer Champion stories here.
Before speaking to many of my patients worried about a symptom of cancer, they have usually spoken to a friend, relative or colleague first and Cancer Champion training helps people with no clinical background to engage in conversations about cancer. It also covers how to reduce your risk of cancer, how to spot any early signs, local cancer statistics, and an overview of national cancer screening programmes.
The training, which began as face-to-face sessions to members of the public in 2018, has grown from strength to strength over the last few years.
The programme now also offers bespoke training to business, voluntary and educational organisations. Companies such as AVIVA, North Yorkshire Council, East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group, and HEY Smile Foundation are just a few of the many employers who have organised private sessions for their workforce.
In 2020, the programme then adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic by introducing virtual training sessions. The option of online training ensured people could still safely attend sessions whilst adhering to government guidelines.
As we continue to respond to the challenges presented by Covid-19, it is more important than ever to reassure people that the NHS still wants to see anyone concerned about symptoms of cancer. With one in two people developing cancer at some point in their lives, it is likely we will all be affected by cancer in one way or another.
I would encourage all my colleagues across Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership to sign up for a free awareness session. By taking part in Cancer Champion training, you can help to turn up the volume on cancer and ensure our individual conversations support a collective effort to improve cancer outcomes across Humber, Coast and Vale.