Every two minutes, somebody in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, according to Cancer Research UK. 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.
People’s experiences of each stage of their journey matters – from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up care – and it doesn’t just affect them, but their friends and family too. With survival rates at an all-time high, things are moving in the right direction, but there’s more to be done to make sure support truly meets people’s needs.
The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a number of ways the NHS wants to improve people’s health in general, as well as their experiences of NHS support. In addition, it has listed a number of specific conditions it wants to get better at preventing, diagnosing and treating. Cancer is one of them. Now it’s time for local NHS services to find out what local people think it would take for care in their communities to improve.
Cancer Research UK says 38% of cancer cases are preventable, so the NHS wants to do more to help people, where possible, to avoid getting the disease in the first place. It also wants to make the process of being diagnosed quicker, and to give people more control over their care, and access to support in a way that suits them, such as through technology or closer to home.
The NHS Long Term Plan also includes a number of specific areas of cancer care that it aims to improve. For example, it wants to modernise bowel cancer screening so that people are diagnosed sooner, to set a new, shorter timeframe in which people must receive either a definitive diagnosis or ruling out of cancer, and to do more to combat cancers in children.
What would you do?
We’re running a survey to find out about people’s experiences of specific conditions, including cancer. What would you do to make care better where you live? Have your say.
More men diagnosed with prostate cancer sooner, thanks to Errol
When Errol’s friend died of prostate cancer, he realised that men in his community weren’t being screened for the disease because they didn’t like going to see their GP, and because of stigma around cancer.
1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to Cancer Research UK. It’s the most common cancer amongst men in the UK, and is most common in black men.
Errol and his organisation, Friends of Caswell Thompson, went all over the community to raise awareness of the need for men to get screened, speaking to people in churches, prisons, barber shops and football stadiums. Errol worked with Healthwatch Bristol to run events to raise awareness of the risk of prostate cancer and the support available for families affected. He shared his own story of being diagnosed, encouraging other men in Bristol to take action.
As a result of this work, many men in the local area went to be screened for the disease and more than six were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thanks to Errol, they were diagnosed early and did not experience any long term effects.
Errol’s story highlights the difference individuals can make when they spot something that needs to change and take action to help local healthcare services improve and, ultimately, save lives.