Leeds GP Confederation’s Cancer Screening & Awareness Programme, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, aims to tackle health inequalities by encouraging more people in Leeds to take part in cancer screening.
To help achieve this we are working with eight Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in areas of the city with the highest levels of deprivation. Each of these eight PCNs have appointed ‘Cancer Care Coordinators’ who help support people across the city to take part in screening.
To find out more about our Cancer Care Coordinators we asked Claire Nanyonga, Cancer Care Coordinator in Armley PCN, about her role, and why programmes like this are so important.
What inspired you to become a Cancer Care Coordinator?
Becoming a Cancer Care Coordinator is very personal, as I know what it is like for someone who is reluctant to come for their screening. I had been ignoring my cervical screening appointment invitations for more than a year. Then I got these worrying symptoms that persisted for a long time, so, I took the bold step of making an appointment. As fate would have it, results showed I had pre-cancerous grade 3 Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) cells.
I had a colposcopy procedure to treat the cells and was relieved when I received negative results showing that the cells had been dealt with before they became cancerous. When I saw the advert for this role, I was sure there were many like me who were ignoring their screening invitations, and I just wanted to help them so they can get screened before getting symptoms, as this can be very unsettling.
What are you most proud of in your role?
Being able to support one of my GP practices identify gaps in contacting people who don’t attend their screening. Some of these people had not been contacted in almost a year and on messaging them, a good number responded by booking appointments.
Why is the work that you’re doing important?
Screening helps prevent and detect cancer early! Therefore, getting more people screened means having fewer people developing cancer and increasing the survival rate of those with cancer, as most cancers are treatable if detected early. Armley is already a deprived area with residents dealing with so many other socio-economic issues, so if there is a reduction in cancer it would result in more years of good health for our patients, and of course happier families as cancer affects the entire community.
What would you say to people who are hesitant to attend their screening appointment?
ATTEND YOUR SCREENING APPOINTMENTS! It’s simple, easy, free and you can go with someone if you like. Don’t carry the burden of the unknown!