Smoking blamed for high cancer rates

Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer in the UK
Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer in the UK (credit Raul Lieberwirth/Flickr)

Enfield Council has launched a cancer awareness campaign, reports Zac Ntim

Cancer is the biggest killer in Enfield and residents living in the borough’s poorest areas are more likely to die after diagnosis, a new study has found.

Cancer deaths are 22% more likely to occur in the most deprived areas compared with the most affluent parts of Enfield borough.

Patricia Mecinska, chief executive of Healthwatch Enfield, believes this is because of a lack of awareness. She told the Dispatch: “Based on evidence from our outreach activities with local communities we know that those from disadvantaged or low-income backgrounds are less aware of a range of health issues and are more likely to present with a more advanced-stage cancer leading to poorer outcomes.

“We also need to remember about Enfield’s diverse communities, who may not be accessing prevention messages through standard channels.”

Cancer awareness across the borough is low, with only 30% of residents able to identify a single symptom. In response, Enfield Council last month launched a year-long campaign to provide residents with advice on how to spot symptoms, as well as lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the chance of developing the disease.

Mahtab Uddin, cabinet member for public health, said: “In many cases cancer has become a treatable disease. Delivering improvements in early diagnosis of cancer by raising awareness of its symptoms is our main aim. We will also focus on the importance of prevention by promoting healthier lifestyles and encouraging people to participate in national screening programmes.

“But the single biggest impact anyone can make to reduce the risk of developing cancer is to quit smoking.”

A study published by the council’s health and wellbeing board found that adult smoking is higher in Enfield than neighbouring boroughs and across England. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK – every year around 78,000 people die from smoking-related illness.

In May, as part of a joint commission between all London boroughs, a new online portal called ‘London Stop Smoking’ was launched to provide advice and education to Londoners aiming to stop smoking. All smokers living, working or studying in Enfield can now contact the free service, which is accessible both online and by phone.

The council’s year-long cancer awareness project is a joint venture with Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group and will primarily aim to promote ways to prevent breast, lung, bowel and cervical cancers.

To learn more about spotting the signs of cancer:
Visit nhs.uk/conditions/cancer
Visit cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer