National Cancer Prevention Month
Cancer Prevention Month: Five ways we’re preventing lung cancer
February is National Cancer Prevention Month… in the US. There is no such equivalent in the UK and we can’t help but ask why not? There may be many crazy things going on in America at the moment but trying to prevent cancer is definitely not one of them.
Lung cancer prevention is one of the primary focuses of our Foundation. Here’s some of the ways we are trying to prevent people from getting lung cancer in the first case, as well as helping people understand lung cancer signs and symptoms to improve its early detection and improve survival rates:
Smoking cigarettes is the biggest cause of lung cancer. It is responsible for 85% of lung cancer cases. Other types of tobacco products can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer and other types of cancer.
Cut Films, our youth charity partner, is designed to educate children about the dangers of smoking, tobacco and shisha.
Each year, an estimated 207,000 children aged 11-15 will start smoking and two thirds of adult smokers admit to taking up the habit before they were 18. But instead of nagging and preaching about the dangers of smoking and its links to lung cancer, we run workshops which get young people to create a two-minute film. The brief is simple: the film should persuade their peers not to smoke.
93% of young people said taking part in Cut Films made them more aware of the harm caused by smoking.
Nottingham Screening Project
January saw us launch a Lung Health Check and Lung Cancer screening project in Nottingham to identify potential lung cancer patients before any symptoms appear.
Patients in five Bulwell practices aged between 60 and 75 with a history of smoking will be invited to attend a lung health check appointment by their GP. During the health check, patients will be assessed. Any high risk patients will be offered a low dose CT (LDCT) scan.
The scan will then identify if the patient has any nodules on their lungs. If they do, they will be referred to the Nottingham University Hospital’s (NUH) Lung Cancer Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) for regular monitoring and follow up.
Prior to the launch of the screening project, a pilot was run at Bilborough Medical Centre during January and February 2016. It targeted a high risk group – people between the ages of 60 and 75 with a history of smoking in the last 5 years. The results^ were as follows:
· 35% of invited patients attended a lung health check appointment
· 60% of patients attending the lung health check appointment were eligible for a CT scan
· 88% of patients eligible for a CT scan accepted and attended the scan
· 3 lung nodules were found.
None of the nodules found were cancerous but this can change. As a result, these three patients will now be kept under observation. This means if lung cancer does develop, there is an increased chance that it will be caught early. Individuals with very early stage lung cancer have up to a 73% chance of surviving for five years or more.
In 1994, we launched the UK’s first smoking cessation service, called FagEnds.
During that time, we helped half a million people stop smoking as well as educating over 50,000 school children below the age of 10 on the dangers of smoking.
We also instigated and successfully campaigned for a smoking ban in public places and in cars with children present.
Sadly, last year, funding was cut and Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is no longer able to operate a smoking cessation programme. We do however still offer an online stop-smoking service called Quit Support, offering help and support to those who would like to stop smoking, cut down smoking or stay stopped.
Many of our FagEnds success stories volunteer their time and work as administrators on the forum, offering first hand advice and support to those trying to escape the clutches of this overwhelming addiction.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle
There are many ways people can get healthy and get active through our website. From marathons to gentler 5k runs, Tough Mudder challenges and swims, walks and cross country cycles, we make it easy for people to get up and get active… and raise money for the charity at the same time.
Lung cancer is often seen as the ‘unspoken cancer’, most likely due to its links with smoking and the associated stigma. As a result, people can tune out to the signs and symptoms.
We don’t tune out. We are very much tuned in and raising awareness of lung cancer signs and symptoms is very much at the heart of what we do. We have our very own chap called Stan – Stan, Stan, the Symptoms Man – used by many healthcare professionals to highlight the signs and symptoms of lung cancer.
Stan is a regular feature on our website and a primary tool used during last year’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month. So if you need reminding of the signs and symptoms that could point towards lung cancer – Stan’s the man for you.
We know there is no easy way of preventing people from getting cancer. There is not one simple change that will make lung cancer go away. So we need to stack the odds against this devastating disease.
Our five examples are each important strands in a complicated fabric of action and consequence.
The more we do, the more ways share this message - the more hope we have. Even in these volatile times, we CAN learn from the US, and by putting a focus on cancer prevention we can combine all the necessary steps to bring about a positive change and a brighter future. Together.