‘Spot cancer early’ roadshow arrives in Derry with drop-ins at Altnagelvin and the Richmond Centre this week

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Nurses from Cancer Research UK are in Derry today and tomorrow as part of a major charity awareness campaign across Northern Ireland.

The nurses from the charity’s Cancer Awareness Roadshow are setting up at various venues in the city this week as part of the Spot Cancer Early campaign which urges people to contact their GP if they’ve noticed a sign or symptom that could be lung cancer.

The Roadshow team were at the Tesco Superstore at Lisnagelvin on Tuesday and today, Wednesday, the Roadshow will be at the Altnagelvin Hospital from 9.30am to 4.30pm, and tomorrow Thursday March 14, the team will be at the Richmond Centre in Derry at the same times.

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Cancer Research UK’s Spot Cancer Early campaign has been launched because, although lung cancer is the second most common cancer in Northern Ireland, many people aren’t aware of the symptoms. This may be one of the reasons the disease is frequently diagnosed at a late stage when it’s much harder to treat.

Nurses will be setting up at Altnagelvin today.Nurses will be setting up at Altnagelvin today.
Nurses will be setting up at Altnagelvin today.

The charity’s Senior Cancer Awareness Nurse, Thomas Hawkins, said: “We’re very much looking forward to meeting people in Derry and supporting them with their concerns.

“Unusual changes in your health such as breathlessness or a cough that won’t go away, could be signs of lung cancer.  If you’ve noticed any of these changes, your GP wants to hear from you. It’s important to get help because finding cancer early could save your life.”

Running this March and April, the campaign also uses a powerful TV advert that features someone debating with themselves about whether to contact their doctor because they have a persistent cough and breathlessness.

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The ad finishes with the charity’s vital message: ‘Changes that are unusual for you, like unexplained weight loss, a persistent cough or breathlessness, could be signs of lung cancer. Finding cancer early could save your life. Talk to your GP, not yourself.’ 

Visitors coming along to the Cancer Awareness Roadshow can speak with the nurses anytime, without needing an appointment.

The experienced nurses chat to people about how small lifestyle changes can reduce their cancer risk, encourage them to know what’s normal for their body and give them confidence to go to the GP with any concerns.

Despite GP surgeries being very busy, Cancer Research UK is urging people not to delay contacting their doctor.

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Thomas Hawkins added: “It’s vital that people seek help for any unusual signs or symptoms. Treatment is far more likely to be effective when cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, which is why it’s so important for people to listen to their bodies and tell their doctor if they notice a change that isn’t normal for them.”

In Northern Ireland, each year, around 10,100 people are given the news that they have cancer, with most cases being diagnosed in people aged 50 and over.Around 1,400 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year in Northern Ireland.

The Spot Cancer Early campaign is funded by the Department of Health Cancer Charities Support Fund and supports the cancer strategy in Northern Ireland. It is being run by Cancer Research UK in partnership with the Public Health Agency and the NI Cancer Programme (Legacy NICaN).

Health Minister Robin Swann MLA said: “We know the early diagnosis of cancer can be lifesaving which is why the Spot Cancer Early campaign is so important. It’s vital people in Northern Ireland are alert to symptoms like a persistent cough or breathlessness that won’t go away, and they contact their GP practice for further investigation.”

The campaign is also supported by the Royal College of General Practitioners. Its chair Ursula Mason said: “If you have noticed any unusual changes in your health, we are here to help you. Please do get in touch with your GP surgery who will do their very best to help find out what is causing your symptoms. In most cases it won’t be lung cancer, but if it is, spotting it early can make all the difference. Every person deserves the best chance of having an early-stage diagnosis when treatment is more likely to be successful.”

For more information on Spot Cancer Early, visit cruk.org/northernireland