“Being bloated or having diarrhoea isn’t something we usually discuss with others.”
Health teams have been tackling the lack of awareness around cancer in the West Midlands where around 30,400 people are diagnosed with cancer each year.
With approximately 14,400 people dying from the disease in this region, new roadshows have been taking place across Birmingham to increase awareness of persistent stomach troubles as possible signs of cancer.
The Be Clear on Cancer roadshow visited a number of places of worship and community organisations across the Midlands, including Bethel Convention Centre & Church, Jamia Masjid Haroonia and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara and Healthcare Trust.
The campaign, part of a wider campaign launched by Public Health England in the Midlands, is encouraging anyone suffering from symptoms such as persistent diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area, to see their doctor. These problems can be a sign of a number of different cancers, such as bowel, ovarian or pancreatic.
Around nine in ten cases of cancer are diagnosed in people aged 50 or over, and the earlier it is diagnosed, the greater the chances of survival. The Be Clear on Cancer teams have trained community ambassadors who have been engaged in conversations with South Asians, Black Africans and Caribbeans about the disease.
Campaign bosses say raising awareness is crucial, as a recent survey in the Midlands shows that only one in six (16%) over 50s would see their GP if they felt bloated for more than three weeks.
Figures show that only one in four (24%) would go to the GP if they had experienced discomfort in the tummy area for over three weeks. Furthermore, the survey found many residents are concerned that they would be wasting their GP’s time if they went to see them about such problems.
The Be Clear on Cancer community ambassadors have been encouraging people who may be experiencing persistent tummy troubles to see their GP and explaining that their doctor will want to see them.
Bhai Sahib (Dr) Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia KSG OBE, patron of Nishkam Healthcare Trust in Birmingham says: “Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.
“It’s a lofty mission. The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign needs to be supported by one and all in the Midlands who come to know of it. We shouldn’t ignore spreading the word.
“All men and women, especially those aged 50 or over, need to see their doctor quickly if they suffer from prolonged stomach troubles.”
The campaign is also being supported by local celebrities Sameena Ali and Nitin Ganatra.
ITV presenter Sameena Ali who lives in the Midlands, comments: “I’m glad this campaign is launching in the area.
“I never realised that tummy troubles such as diarrhoea, bloating or discomfort in the tummy area, for three weeks or more could be signs of cancer so am keen to raise awareness in my community so others know what to look out for.
“Being bloated or having diarrhoea isn’t something we usually discuss with others, and it’s also something we often dismiss or ignore, but don’t be embarrassed or shy about it.
“Breaking down the barriers of embarrassment could save lives. Tell your doctor if you have any concerns, your doctor will want to see you.”
For further information about tummy troubles as possible signs of cancer, please visit nhs.uk/tummytroubles.