Timing is key in cancer fight

Scottish star Yvie Burnett launches Scottish Government backed cancer awareness campaign "Get Checked".
Scottish star Yvie Burnett launches Scottish Government backed cancer awareness campaign "Get Checked".

More people are surviving cancer than ever before thanks to early detection. The earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.

There are still 1,000 deaths in Scotland each year which could be avoided if cancer survival rates matched the best in Europe.

#GetChecked is a national campaign by the Scottish Government and the charity Cancer Research UK to encourage people to get changes to their body checked by a GP sooner rather than later. The campaign uses Scotland’s most iconic check – tartan – to highlight the issue.

“Very often when someone is worried about cancer, it’s something they put to the back of their mind,” says Dr Paul Baughan, a GP at Dollar Health Centre. “Either because they don’t want to face it or are worried about wasting a doctor’s time.

“However, timing is everything. The earlier a patient sees their doctor with their concerns, the quicker we can help, which could save their life.

“If you notice a change in your health, any change, phone today and book an appointment. You’re not wasting anyone’s time. Your GP is there to listen and to help.”

The idea behind #Get-Checked is to make everyday check patterns synonymous with catching cancer early so that every time someone sees a check print, they think about visiting their GP if they have any concerns.

A host of organisations and people the width and breadth of the country have already backed the drive by displaying colourful checks in stores, at their workplaces or even on themselves.

Viv Donaldson (57) from Prestonpans, was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2014. The mother of two sought medical help as soon as she felt something was wrong.

“I had been having unusual stomach pains and on waking one morning they were more intense than ever before so I called NHS 24,” said Viv. “I was referred to hospital and after examination by a nurse I was quickly sent for an x-ray.”

A biopsy showed that Viv had lung cancer. The disease was on her right lung and had spread to her lymph nodes.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she added. “I didn’t think I had any obvious symptoms of lung cancer but when I think back now there were a few occasions where I found myself very breathless after doing activities that normally I had no problem with.”

Viv started treatment and underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Last year she was given the all-clear and has returned to her job at Preston Lodge High School. She said: “Early detection is so important and without it I perhaps wouldn’t be here today.”

Yvie Burnett, a coach on X Factor and The Voice, is encouraging people to wear checked clothing to remind them to report symptoms early.

“I lost my wonderful Dad in 1992 when I was in my 20s, which was far too soon,” said Burnett.

“When I had children he wasn’t around to see them and there are so many things I have done in my life which I would have loved to share with him.

“That’s why I’m passionate about what #GetChecked aims to do. I’m proudly wearing my checks, and I hope others across the country will as well.”

○ 176,000 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed with cancer in the last 20 years are still alive

○ Two in four people survive cancer today, compared to one in four in the 1970s

○ 48 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women in Scotland survive cancer

○ Nine out of ten people with cancer in Scotland are over 50

○ There are over 100 cancer research projects in Scotland

○ Four in ten cases of cancer in the UK can be prevented, largely through lifestyle changes