A campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of oesophagogastric cancer is set to hit Northumberland.
Over the last month, groups of Be Clear on Cancer community teams have been out and about in the north east’s towns and cities to raise awareness of this type of cancer, which causes 10,000 deaths nationally each year.
Now a new ‘roaming’ team of two in a branded, leased Be Clear on Cancer vehicle is picking up the baton to ensure more local communities also receive the same valuable information.
Oesophagogastric cancer refers to cancer of the stomach and cancer of the oesophagus, the long tube (gullet) that carries food from the throat to the stomach.
The north of England and Scotland have some of the highest rates of oesophagogastric cancer in the country yet early detection can make it more treatable.
There is a lack of awareness generally about its main symptoms, which include indigestion or heartburn for three weeks or more and difficulty swallowing food.
Sarah Rushbrooke, North of England Cancer Network Quality and Patient Safety Director, says: “We’re receiving excellent feedback from the public about the work the community engagement teams have already undertaken.
“In two days at the MetroCentre alone, the Be Clear on Cancer team spoke to around 1,400 people. Their work is proving very valuable with the public welcoming the information and others saying they would act on the advice about seeing their GP with symptoms.
“They’re doing a fantastic job raising awareness of the symptoms of oesophagogastric cancer and promoting the vital message that you should visit your GP if you are experiencing anything at all which might be cause for concern.
“We’re keen to ensure we get information about oesophagogastric cancer to as many people in the region as possible and especially in more local communities, which we may not have reached yet. The new ‘roaming’ community team will help us do just that.”
Be Clear on Cancer community engagement teams have already visited town and shopping centres in Sunderland, Tyneside, Washington, Northumberland, County Durham, Teesside and Cumbria - distributing informative leaflets and symptom cards and encouraging anyone with any concerns to visit their GP to discuss them as early as possible.
Now the new ‘roaming team’ will be visiting local shopping centres, high streets and the heart of residential communities within Chester le Street, Workington, Maryport, Wigton, Hartlepool, Bishop Auckland, North Tyneside, Hexham, Corbridge, Sunderland, Newcastle, Gateshead, Washington, Morpeth, Alnwick, Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stockton, South Tyneside, South Shields, Seaham and Whitburn.
The Be Clear on Cancer oesophagogastric campaign is being co-ordinated by the North of England Cancer Network (NECN) on behalf of the NHS in the region and is endorsed by Lady Elsie Robson, Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott, Middlesbrough FC manager Tony Mowbray and Newcastle United and England legend Alan Shearer.
Oesophagogastric cancer affects both men and women, although men are more frequently affected, and nine out of ten people diagnosed are over 55.
The campaign is part of a national Be Clear on Cancer initiative, which was launched in this region by the North of England Cancer Network to help save 1,000 lives in the North East and North Cumbria in 2011. It was launched early in 2011 to raise awareness of breast, bowel and lung cancer and was expanded to include skin, prostate and oesophagogastric cancers.
This new phase of Be Clear on Cancer will run in the areas covered by the NECN - Northumberland, North and South of Tyne, County Durham and Darlington, Teesside and North Cumbria. The region is one of a number of pilot sites across the country to receive funding from the Department of Health for the campaign.
Click on the video above to find out more about the campaign...