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05/03/19

Talking about cancer can save lives

Conversations about cancer and health can save lives across Bradford and Craven say local NHS chiefs.

Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is working with Cancer Research UK to run workshops to help people have more confident conversations about all forms of cancer.

The free Talk Cancer sessions use conversation techniques to advise people how to make healthy lifestyle changes and to see a doctor when they notice an unusual change in their body.

One previous participant has already put the skills into practice, helping others find reliable information and take part in screening tests.

Ingrid Dzerins, from Heaton, who is a member of the Women’s Health Network in Bradford and has attended a previous Talk Cancer workshop, said:

“That night, when I came home from the workshop, I was talking to my daughter and her friend and her friend mentioned that she was supposed to be going for cervical screening the following day.

“She said ‘I’m not going to go’ and I said ‘No, you must go’ and we had quite a long conversation about it. It was fear of just putting a foot over the doorway – it was fear of the unknown – that was putting her off going.

“I’m really pleased to say that she went, and she went because of that conversation. And it's a conversation I might not have continued if I hadn't been to the workshop.”

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Led by Cancer Research UK trainers, who have nursing backgrounds, the Talk Cancer workshops are interactive and run for three hours with attendees gaining cancer knowledge alongside communication skills and confidence. The sessions also cover myths and facts about cancer. People do not need any previous training in the subject to attend.

Ingrid added: “If people get the opportunity to go to a Talk Cancer workshop please go because they’re brilliant. The nurses are so knowledgeable but so down to earth.

“It’s just half a day and you learn about the different screenings that people are encouraged to take up and what happens during screening. They also talk about local statistics – the numbers of people that are not taking up the opportunity to be screened for different cancers – as well as the things that may increase your chances of developing cancer.

“Cancer’s such an emotive word but now I’ve spoken to lots of other people about it, I’m not frightened of broaching the subject.

“The more you talk about it, it’s got less fear ​and hopefully that means more people will go for screening and will be less hesitant about going to get symptoms checked out.”

GP practices across Bradford district are working together to combat cervical cancer and increase attendance at cervical screening.

Dr Anne Connolly, clinical lead for maternity, women's health and sexual health for Bradford district and Craven clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), said“Any woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer and it is the most common cancer in women under 35. It is vital for women to attend when called as this will save lives.

“The test takes just minutes and can be performed at a GP surgery by the practice nurse or GP. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. The symptoms of cervical cancer are usually not obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it’s reached an advanced stage. This is why it’s very important for women to attend all of their cervical screening appointments.

“If a woman doesn’t know if their cervical screening is due or if it’s overdue, they should still contact the GP practice to check or make an appointment. They can also take someone with them if that would make it easier.”

The next Talk Cancer workshops take place on Tuesday 12 March at Carlisle Business Centre, between 1.30pm and 4.30pm and the following day, Wednesday 13 March, at Girlington Community Centre between 9.30am-12.30pm

Places can be booked by emailing engage@bradford.nhs.uk or by calling 01274 237605.

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