Doctor steps up the East End’s campaign to improve cancer survivial rates

If people stick to one New Year’s resolution it should be to visit their GP if they experience any symptom that may be linked to cancer, an East End consultant has said.

Dr Thomas Powles, consultant oncologist, has spoken out to highlight Barts and the London NHS trust’s “small c” campaign which was launched last year to boost cancer survival rates in the area.

Research carried out by Tower Hamlets NHS last year showed that residents in more deprived areas were less likely to recognise common signs and symptoms of certain cancers, such as moles, sores that do not heal and changes in bowel and bladder habits.

Improvements have been made in recent years but Tower Hamlets still has amongst the lowest cancer survival rates in the country.

The doctor has now warned that too many patients he sees set themselves unattainable targets at this time of year when small steps, such as getting unusual symptoms checked out, could end up saving their life.

The doctor explained: “The earlier cancer is spotted, the better the survival rate. The majority of cancers cause symptoms in people that can easily be checked out at their local GP.

“Visiting your GP if you have a niggling health issue like a cough that lasts for longer than three weeks or a rash on your breast is easy to arrange and helps catch serious diseases like cancer when it’s small and easier to treat.

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“It’s very common for people to feel silly about visiting their doctor simply because they have a hoarse voice or Studies show that most cancers can be successfully treated if caught in their early stages.

The first phase of the campaign is targeting breast and lung cancer, the two most common forms which affect almost 90,000 people every year in the UK.

The initiative is a partnership between NHS East London and the City and neighbouring trusts in north and east London as well as GP surgeries, pharmacists and community groups.