Local GP is figurehead for regional cancer campaign

Published March 3, 2017 at 11:38

A local GP with a special interest in improving cancer care has become the campaign figure head in the North West for a national campaign to improve awareness and participation in bowel screening.

Dr Neil Smith, the lead GP for cancer for both Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) has been selected to be the figurehead for the campaign by Cancer Research UK. The campaign has displayed advertisements in local, regional and national media to raise awareness of the bowel cancer screening programme.

Bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16% in the target population – those from 60 to 74 years old. Despite this, fewer people are participating in bowel screening as expected. While the national figure is 56%, it is as low as 40% in some areas of North West England, and in East Lancashire the figure is 55% and in Blackburn with Darwen it is 49%.

Residents in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire who are aged 60-74 are automatically sent a free bowel cancer screening kit in the post every two years. The kit is meant for people with no symptoms. It is easy to use and can be a life saver as its one of the best ways to find bowel cancer early, when it’s easier to treat successfully.

Dr Smith said:

It was great to be offered the chance to be the figurehead for this campaign because I am passionate about improving cancer services and people’s life chances should they be diagnosed with cancer. Awareness and participation in the bowel cancer screening programme is a priority in East Lancashire because too few people use the bowel screening kit when it’s delivered. Even though the kit is easy to use, it can be a life saver for many people.

When bowel cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than 9 in 10 people will survive the disease for more than five years. That’s why I’m supporting Cancer Research UK and Public Health England’s latest Be Clear on Cancer campaign that launched this year in the North West of England. If more 60-74 year olds use the kits when they receive them they would have either peace of mind that all is well, or if they found early signs of cancer it can be treated quickly and have a better chance.

More information on both campaigns can be found at Bowel Cancer UK or at the Be Clear On Cancer website.

In addition to his roles as a GP and cancer lead, Dr Smith is also a GP educator and appraiser, and has trained many of the younger GPs working in the area, as well as running many cancer educational events. He also continues to work as the stadium doctor for Blackburn Rovers.