Campaign improves chances of cancer survival

Doctor examines patient. Pic: The National Cancer Institute

A campaign aimed at improving the chances of cancer survival in East London has led to more people being diagnosed early.

The “small c” campaign started in 2010, and is a partnership between the health services across Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, City and Hackney and Barts Health NHS Trust. The initiative was formed to help people recognise the smallest symptoms of cancer, so it can be treated before it is too late.

A recent study of the “small c” campaign showed that local organisations that were part of the campaign managed to raise awareness of early-stage cancer in primal stages, which led to early treatment.

The study showed that the numbers being treated for early stage lung cancer at the Royal London Hospital had increased from 52 per cent to 68 per cent of all cases since the campaign started, while the number of women in Tower Hamlets with late stage breast cancer had gone down by nine per cent.

Eastlondonlines spoke to a representative from the “small c” organisation about their mission and future plans: “When we started out our idea was to educate people in finding cancer at an early stage. Most people realise they have cancer after it is already too late. We want to minimise this by letting people know that small things such as checking your breasts for lumps every couple of weeks can prevent cancer,” said the spokesperson.

“We are very pleased as the number of people with late stage cancer in Tower Hamlets has decreased since our operation started in 2010. This would not be possible without organisations such as the Council who support our mission and help us spread the message that cancer if found early is not the end of the world.”

In the first nine months of the campaign 10,000 people was contacted by their local councils, pharmacies and GP practices. This also led to a considerable increase in GP referrals for breast and lung cancer in the targeted boroughs: referrals for breast cancer increased by 22 per cent, and for lung cancer 64 per cent.

The Chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Sam Everington, said: “Cancer is a common disease – in fact one in three of us will develop it some time in our lives, especially as we are living longer. The good news is that treatment can be very successful when cancer is found early, so that more than half of all patients are still alive 10 years after their diagnosis – twice as many as 40 years ago.”

The Director of Public Health for Tower Hamlets Council, Dr Somen Banerjee said: “The evidence is clear, increasing the number of people diagnosed at an early stage means increasing the chances of survival. If you notice any unexplained changes in your body or a cough that hasn’t gone away after three weeks, it is always best to visit your GP without delay.”

Tower Hamlets Public Health will continue to fund the “small c” campaign in the borough, based on the emerging evidence of increasing referrals by GP’s of suspected cancer and more people being diagnosed early with breast and lung cancer.

For more information on early detection signs or to get involved visit


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