HUNDREDS of cancer experts have made a pledge to save 1,000 lives from the killer disease.
Medics and cancer survivors gathered at the Stadium of Light for the North of England Cancer Network (NECN) conference.
The meeting saw the network – a partnership of NHS bodies from across the North East and North Cumbria – challenge the NHS on how they can work together to save 1,000 lives from cancer in the north of England over the next two years.
A campaign has been launched urging people to become more aware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer and see their GP.
The northern Be Clear on Cancer campaign highlights the benefits of early detection, which makes cancer more treatable and saves lives.
If just two patients from every GP’s surgery in the region who are in the early stages of cancer could be diagnosed earlier, then the life-saving goal could be achieved.
Dr Janet Whiteway, NECN’s medical director, was given the all-clear from breast cancer five years ago.
She said: “We’re at the bottom of the league in this country for one-year survival after cancer and second bottom for five-year survival.
“In the North East and North Cumbria we have more people who develop cancer compared to the national average and, more worryingly, the majority of people who responded to a recent survey about cancer didn’t know the early signs and symptoms of the major cancers.
“An important part of this challenge is the Be Clear on Cancer campaign. We need people to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer and if they notice anything different about their own body – they must tell their GP.”
Former prison governor Alan Bainbridge was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus after going to the doctor with a cough.
The 67-year-old was treated at University Hospital North Durham, before having an operation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Wife Jean ordered him to go to his GP after he became ill on holiday in America.
He had a stark message for anyone worried about their health.
“Get yourself to the doctor and persuade them to give you a definitive answer to your problems.
“I went early because I was bullied into it by my wife.
“The doctors are the cleverest people in the whole world and the nurses are tremendous, but you have to give them something to work with.”
Southwick-based GP Dr Henry Choi, the city’s lead on cancer, said: “The first step for us is raising awareness, so people know what sort of problems they should come to us with.
“In Sunderland we are doing work on early diagnosis of lung cancer, so we are promoting this through chronic obstructive pulmonary disease clinics and smoking cessation clinics.”