Friday 7th September 2012
Karen Parkinson shares how she and colleagues are raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer.
The Early Presentation of Cancer Programme
(EPOC) was set up in 2009 to lower cancer mortality rates in Lincolnshire’s growing and ageing population.
It aims to:
- raise awareness of the importance of early detection of cancer through recognition of signs and symptoms.
- promote the early presentation of cancer symptoms to GPs
- work with GPs to raise their awareness and use of early diagnostic tools
- promote better uptake and attendance of screening services
- work in the heart of communities, developing volunteering and social marketing.
EPOC was established by NHS Lincolnshire in response to action points identified in the Cancer Reform Strategy. The strategy sets out a programme of action across ten areas, including six areas to improve cancer outcomes and four areas to ensure delivery.
Spreading the word
EPOC spreads cancer prevention and healthy lifestyle messages to people from all walks of life. The team visit schools, colleges, universities, community groups and local events, and volunteers hold a monthly market stall. During the first six
months of 2012, the team delivered more than 300 events and workshops.
Volunteers receive training from Macmillan about the signs and symptoms of cancer, confidence building and talking to members of the public. One of the volunteers found a cancerous breast tumour after joining the programme and she now uses her story to show that early diagnosis can save lives.
EPOC has also run a successful ‘Boobs and Balls’ campaign to educate young people about the importance of getting to know their breasts and testicles from an early age and reporting any changes to their GP. Over 6,150 young people have been reached by the campaign this year.
As part of the second phase of EPOC’s development, the team is raising awareness of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes to improve uptake. The team development workers liaise with local breast and bowel screening units to find out where and when their screening sessions are taking place and promote the sessions within communities with the help of volunteers.
The team discuss specific queries and fears with individuals and have addressed these with very encouraging results. The Lincolnshire breast screening unit has reported an increase in women attending for screening in the targeted areas.
EPOC has been promoting the national bowel screening programme by encouraging people to use their postal kits and we promoted the service at Lincolnshire's agricultural show. The team are currently devising a cervical cancer campaign to increase uptake of cervical screening invitations by all age groups.
An evaluation of the programme will begin in October and we'll be including updates on our work in future editions of Mac Voice
Email Karen Parkinson, EPOC Development Worker (Sleaford Area)
The EPOC programme is delivered by the registered charity developmentplus and is funded by NHS Lincolnshire and Macmillan Cancer Support. The EPOC Development Workers are Karen Parkinson, Louise Irving, Kasia Pisarska Hopkins and Bonney Cottrell.