The Cancer Champions project was developed to help improve awareness of spotting the signs and symptoms of cancer, in Carlisle 2 out of 5 premature deaths are due to cancer. Botcherby ward was chosen as the pilot area as it is one of the areas with a higher rate of premature deaths due the cancer. A person diagnosed with cancer in an affluent area has a survival rate of 53% compared to 39% living in a more deprived area we want community cancer champions to help us change this.
The aim of the community cancer champions pilot was to recruit and use volunteers to help deliver messages within their communities around awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast, bowel and lung cancer and to encourage people who have symptoms to go to their GP and get them checked out. Initial discussion for this took place during Carlisle’s Healthy City Week in October 2011, between Carlisle City Council and Dr Colin Patterson from Brunswick Medical Practice (Macmillan GP lead and Cancer GP lead for Carlisle locality). Following this planning of this project was developed by the Community Cancer working group.
The awareness raising event took place on the 15th May 2012 with Dr Colin Patterson opening the session. There were 15 volunteers in attendance; these volunteers came from Botcherby Community Centre and other partner organisations working in Botcherby area of Carlisle. The raising awareness session was delivered by Muriel Nixon (Carlisle Locality Commissioning Manager) and Christine Clark (Senior Public Health Improvement Specialist) from NHS Cumbria. An informal catch-up event will take place in September for these volunteers to come back together and share their experiences and ideas.
As more volunteers join the project additional sessions will be held to educate champions about early signs and symptoms of cancer so they are able to talk to people they meet on a daily basis about these symptoms to help raise awareness and education around the importance of catching cancer early. It is hoped that the pilot will be rolled out to other Wards in Carlisle which have low cancer survival rates. Figures from local GP Practices will be collated to look at the individual cancer profiles for their practices and a Risk Assessment tool will aid in identifying cancer earlier. It is hoped that patients present early due to encouragement from a Community Cancer Champion.