Five-year plan aims to tackle cancer

BEAT THE HABIT ... smoking is a major cause of high cancer rates.
BEAT THE HABIT ... smoking is a major cause of high cancer rates.

COUNCIL chiefs have outlined a five-year plan to battle cancer – as the borough faces the highest mortality rates in the region.

A South Tyneside Partnership Cancer Strategy – for 2014 to 2019 – aims to encourage healthy eating and reduce smoking and improve cancer screening.

South Tyneside is ranked 146th out of 150 local authorities in England for cancer mortality rates, with 192 deaths per 100,000 people, in the latest figures covering 2010 to 2012.

The latest cancer strategy report was discussed at a meeting of the council’s People Select Committee.

The report from Helen Watson, corporate director for children, adults and families, said a range of measures are required to reduce cancer rates in the borough.

She said: “Appropriate prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation and support services will be required.”

Action plan

Action to be taken by the local authority, as well as health bodies, will include targeting areas of the borough that have a traditionally low uptake for cancer screenings.

For those people who already have cancer, plans will be put in place to ensure they and their families have access to the best information and services.

Regular screenings and improved care for those who have cancer is part of a bid to reduce a mortality gap between the borough and the rest of the country.

People in South Tyneside die an average of eight years earlier than those who live in the healthiest part of England.

The strategy aims to prevent cancer by targetting its main causes – smoking, poor diet and above-aberage alcohol consumption.

The report states: “Reducing above average rates of smoking, poor diets and alcohol consumption will have significant impacts on our local population.

“Smoking is by far the most important preventable cause of cancer.

“It is responsible for one in four UK cancer deaths.”

Prevention will be carried out through healthy eating and exercise campaigns and smoking cessation.

Screening is also a key part of the strategy. Three national screening programmes are currently in place for bowel, breast and cervical cancer.

Screening uptake for breast cancer is 75.2 per cent – above the national average of 72.1 per cent – while cervical screenings are also 0.6 per cent above the national average of 74 per cent.

Bowel screening uptake is at 57.9 per cent, slightly behind the national figure of 58.8 per cent.

The strategy aims to increase awareness and uptake of screening and work with groups and areas where screening uptake is low.

Early diagnosis is also a crucial part of the strategy.

The report states: “For many cancers, the earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the greater the prospect of survival and improved quality of life.

“We must continually raise public awareness of cancer symptoms, encouraging people to seek help early and promote early diagnosis in primary care.”

The strategy will also continue to strive for better tretament of cancer conditions.

Action to be taken includes reviewing access to radiotherapy services, review oncology provision and rolling out electronic prescriptions for chemotherapy.

The final strategy will be endorsed by South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trus and the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group.