Women from Bradford's South Asian community are being urged to help boost the ‘shockingly low’ uptake of cancer screening that is putting lives at risk.
The campaign, backed by Bradford West MP Naz Shah, aims to boost the number of women aware of the cancer screening programmes, by at least 2,000 by February of next year.
The campaign, Wise Up To Cancer, involves The University of Bradford and Yorkshire Cancer Research working with 10 community pharmacies and two GP practices, The Ridge Medical Practice and Avicenna Medical Practice, on a research project to improve the uptake of cancer screening among South Asian women in Bradford. The work is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport via the Tampon Tax Fund.
Professor Marcus Rattray of the University of Bradford said: “In Bradford, only 1 in 3 people take up bowel screening, just over half of women take up breast screening and only 6 in 10 of women take up cervical screening, all below the national average. The uptake rate for cancer screening among South Asian women in Bradford is particularly low.
“The project aims to understand why women are not participating in cancer screening and to do something about the shockingly low uptake of cancer screening that is putting women’s lives at risk. The project has already made good progress and now we want to take it further, to bring the benefits to even more women.”
The campaign is calling for women in the local community to volunteer and be trained as community health champions. These champions will talk with women, often in group settings, so that they become more aware of cancer screening, and feel more comfortable in taking part . In addition, the champions will talk to women about lifestyle, including diet and exercise, which are important factors in reducing the risk of cancer.
So far, 20 volunteer community health champions have spoken with over 100 women. In addition, Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire has worked with 10 local pharmacies to train pharmacy champions to engage with women in Wise Up To Cancer conversations, and have so far spoken with around 500 women.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “It’s essential that important health messages are delivered in the most effective way possible. This means asking influential people within specific communities in Yorkshire to act as our ambassadors and reach people that would otherwise be extremely difficult to connect with. We’re pleased that so much progress has been made through our Wise Up To Cancer Bradford project, but we’d like to help even more women take small steps towards a long and healthy life.”
South Asian women living in Bradford can volunteer to be a community champion by visiting http://www.wutc-bradford.org/
The Wise Up To Cancer scheme, pioneered by Yorkshire Cancer Research and originally launched in the Leeds and Wakefield areas, is part of a major drive to encourage healthy lifestyles and raise awareness of cancer signs and symptoms and the importance of screening.