New “checked” campaign to stop spread of cancer

By Andrew Picken

HEALTH chiefs are aiming to save the lives of 1,000 Scots a year with a new campaign to persuade people to get the potential early signs of cancer checked out.

The “Get Checked” drive gets underway tomorrow with people being urged to get to their GP if they suffer persistent coughs, headaches or other common symptoms of cancer.

It is estimated that around 1,000 deaths could be avoided each year if cancer survival matched the best in Europe and early detection is critical for this says Health Secretary Shona Robison.

Miss Robison said the campaign’s name came from wanting to make check patterns synonymous with early detection.

She explained: “Our new early detection campaign is about making people subconsciously think about getting checked or attend screening, when they see a check pattern.

“We know more about cancer today than ever before, and thanks to early detection, research breakthroughs and treatment advances half of men and women now survive cancer in Scotland.

“But early detection is key. Since we launched our £39 million Detect Cancer Early campaign over three years ago attitudes and behaviours towards cancer have positively shifted, with more people in Scotland aware of the benefits of early detection.

“Previously we have focussed on the three most common tumour groups in Scotland — breast, bowel and lung — but get checked will promote the benefits of early detection across all tumour types as we know the earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.”

The Get Checked campaign is part of a wider initiative that aims to change the way that cancer is perceived in Scotland.

Dubbed the “wee c”, the initiative aims to challenge outdated views of cancer in light of findings which prove that survival rates are soaring.

Research showed the previous nickname for cancer, the Big C, often reinforced a fatalistic view of the disease. Fear of the illness in turn prevented people with potential symptoms from attending screenings, meaning early detection opportunities are often missed.

Gregor McNie, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK, which is a partner in the Get Checked campaign, said: “More people than ever are living beyond a cancer diagnosis and, over the last 40 years, survival in the UK has doubled. “Today half of all those told they have cancer will survive the disease for at least ten years.

“We know that early detection saves lives but to help make that happen it’s important that people with unusual or persistent changes to their body get checked. It probably won’t be cancer, but if it is, diagnosing and treating it at an early stage, means treatment is more likely to be effective.”

The Sunday Post has led the way on fighting for better cancer care in Scotland, with our Fighting Chance campaign calling for more consistent treatment for cancer patients across the country and faster diagnosis from GPs.

Earlier this month we revealed an already delayed new cancer strategy for the country will not be ready until the first half of next year.

ENDS

This article first appeared in today’s print edition of The Sunday Post

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