4 January 2016
It’s a New Year and with it comes the sense of change and something new; but what if the change for you is a cancer diagnosis? Here at Macmillan Cancer Support we can help you when you’re facing cancer so that you know that you’re not alone.
Dr Mary McCarthy has worked in Staffordshire as a Macmillan General Practitioner for many years now as well as her role as a GP in Longton. Mary says: “Having qualified in 1981, the Macmillan role has re-ignited my enthusiasm for medicine. It is a role which has allowed me to both develop and grow in the past two years. Working for Macmillan is brilliant for a number of reasons and a personal achievement was liaising with the local Trust and helping to re-design Two-Week Cancer Pathways.
'Locally, our biggest success story was re-defining the lung cancer pathway locally. We understand that awaiting results and being in the midst of a possible diagnosis can be a worrying and often stressful time and through detailed audit and re-designing of the pathway we managed to reduce the number of referrals to secondary care by 25% and this has had a huge benefit to patients and the team offering the very best care and support. It meant that those patients with significant disease, whether due to cancer or not, wereseen in a more timely way. It has also reduced patients’ anxiety for referral onwards when it was deemed not necessary after a negative CT scan.'
She adds: 'When you have an aspect of your job that you really enjoy and knowing and feeling that you can make a difference with robust management supporting you, it really is a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful team as Macmillan.'
As we’re paying more attention to our health and our bodies when we take on the New Year, Macmillan Cancer Support is also putting its efforts into raising awareness of different types of cancer and this January, we’re discussing cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is January 24th - 30th and Macmillan Cancer Support is supporting the cause as every day in the UK eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease. Cervical cancer is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme. However uptake of cervical screening is going down year on year. Early detection is also key to increasing survival rates and so is educating everyone on the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it. Cervical Cancer Prevention Week provides us with an opportunity to do just that.
A few of the symptoms of cervical cancer are:
- Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
- Postmenopausal bleeding if you are not on HRT or have stopped it for six weeks
- Unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge
- Discomfort or pain during sex
- Lower back pain.
If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms or are concerned about any new symptom you should make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. Remember, these symptoms can be associated with many other conditions that are not cancer related.
While we’re highlighting our awareness of cervical cancer, January is also a time to reflect on and set new goals and resolutions for the year ahead most commonly our resolutions centre around our health. Quitting smoking is perhaps the number one resolution that many people wish to fulfil each year. If you’re serious about quitting, don’t do it alone – you get can get free support in your local area with local services, such as the stop-smoking service in Stoke-on-Trent. You’re more likely to succeed with their help. They can offer face to face sessions or support you over the phone if you prefer; it’s about what works for you.
Whether you’re facing cancer or are looking for support and information to help quit smoking, know that you’re not alone. You can contact the Stoke-on-Trent stop smoking service on 0800 085 0928 or visit stoke.gov.uk/smokefree. Get in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support if you have any questions about cancer; visit www.macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 00 00.