Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Important People Go to a GP Early on; in Association with the NHS North East Would You Be Able to Spot the Early Signs of Breast, Bowel or Lung Cancer? Health Reporter JANE PICKEN Finds out about a New Project Which Is Helping People on Tyneside Recognise the Symptoms

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Important People Go to a GP Early on; in Association with the NHS North East Would You Be Able to Spot the Early Signs of Breast, Bowel or Lung Cancer? Health Reporter JANE PICKEN Finds out about a New Project Which Is Helping People on Tyneside Recognise the Symptoms

Article excerpt

Byline: JANE PICKEN

ANASTY cough or severe pain in the stomach could be the early warning signs of cancer but many people may not realise how serious their symptoms are.

A new scheme in Newcastle and North Tyneside could help change people's knowledge of cancer danger signs by using dedicated volunteers, selected from ordinary members of the public, to get out into the community and spread the word about the disease.

Just one of the volunteers who has already signed up is qualified nurse and grandmother-of-two Kim Smith, from Walker.

Bowel cancer has had a devastating effect on her family, but the experience has spurred her on to make sure people know how to protect themselves against the illness.

"My grandmother died from bowel cancer aged 94, then my mum died from it at 74, and now my brother has it and he is just 45," said Kim.

"For my mum and grandmother the symptoms were spotted too late, but it's important we teach people to present themselves to a doctor early on in their illness.

"People shouldn't worry about wasting their GP's time because it's better to be worried about something and have it turn out to be nothing, than worry about it until it's too late.

"Soon I'll be out with the other volunteers in North Tyneside, and we'll all be wearing uniforms and badges, and carrying leaflets to help people find out more about cancer." With three core focus areas in each of the regions - Walker, Byker and Elswick in Newcastle, and Wallsend, North Shields and Riverside, and Longbenton in North Tyneside - health experts want the volunteers to make people aware of what it might feel like to have bowel, breast or lung cancer in the early stages.

"In these areas there are high incidents of cancer and people are just not going to see their GPs early enough and a GP is the only person who can refer them on to people who can find out if it's cancer," said Lesley Davie, who managed the North Tyneside branch of the project.

"Local people are the best sources of information because they know the areas well, and they know about services such as hospitals and surgeries.

"The volunteers will help people make changes in their long-term health prospects by going to events in their local communities and setting up displays, or making sure GP surgeries have plenty of information.

"People are generally unaware of some of the symptoms of cancer and it can be misleading because some of those symptoms, such as a cough, could be misinterpreted as an everyday thing. We want to help people recognise an on-going health problem."

Funded by the Department of Health's Inequalities Unit, the scheme could be life saving, as the quicker a cancer is caught and treated the better the chances of survival.

And Newcastle and North Tyneside are areas that need this scheme most. …

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