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Why it's important to report cancer symptoms early

3/14/2023 4:55 PM

Our latest instalment of Health Matters examined the importance of detecting cancer symptoms early, especially in the Muslim community.

The episode was timed to coincide with an NHS England initiative 'Help us help you' to encourage individuals to seek potentially life-saving checks from their GP if they are concerned about any symptoms.

An NHS double-decker bus has been touring the country to help raise awareness about detecting cancer early, which makes it easier to treat.

The tour, which kicked off on World Cancer Day on Saturday, has made stops in areas with a high Muslim population along its route, including Blackburn, Leicester and the Sunderland international Bangladeshi Centre.

The bus concludes its tour on Friday in Stratford, London. There will also be a pop-up stand at the East London Mosque in the afternoon during Jumuah.

In our recent episode of Health Matters, host Dr. Hina J Shahid spoke to a cancer expert and two guests about the impact of cancer on the Muslim community.

Watch: Health Matters special on early detection of cancer signs and symptoms

Leading cause of death in the UK

Dr. Raghib Ali, Clinical Epidemiologist, said on the programme: "Cancer has become over the last few decades, if you combine all cancers, the leading cause of death in the UK. And unfortunately, roughly one in two of us is like to develop cancer in our lifetimes."

Dr Ali said the survival rate is better with nearly every cancer if diagnosed early: “So, the key message with all cancers is to detect it as early as possible.”

He emphasised the importance for Muslim women to take advantage of available cancer screenings, including breast, cervical, and bowel cancer.

“Unfortunately, in some of our communities, we have been less likely to take up screening, sometimes because of embarrassment or not wanting to trouble the doctor,” said Dr Ali.

“These services are there for us, to help us. When you’re invited to take part, it’s really important we do go. It could really save your life.”

Experiences of dealing with cancer

Bep Dhaliwal, the founder of Thrive 365, talked about her experiences dealing with cancer and how she helps raise awareness of the issue in our communities.  

“Cancer has been very prevalent in my life, and I am undergoing treatment at the moment,” she said  

“But it is something I'm really passionate about, making sure that our communities, in particular, become more familiar with their bodies and know what to look out for. At least get things checked when things don't feel right.”

Writer and influencer Kreena Dhiman, an ambassador for Estee Lauder’s Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, also discussed being diagnosed with breast cancer.  

“I didn't know any other South Asian girl who'd gone through that. And, you know, it was a really lonely time and lonely experience,” she said.

“And so since then, I've wanted to always give back and make sure that anyone else who walks in those shoes has someone there that they can reach out to and ask for help,” she added.  

Watch the full Health Matters programme on our catchup service

Image: NHS video

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