Early diagnosis key to survival

Derek Box
Derek Box

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to raise awareness of the signs of common cancers in Eastbourne – one of the worst-affected areas in the country.

The East Sussex Clear on Cancer campaign, primarily aimed at men aged 45 and over, encourages people to pay a visit to their GP should they recognise early symptoms of bowel and lung cancer.

The preventative initiative is designed to reduce the need for extensive treatments and improve survival rates.

Health experts said that Eastbourne’s low survival rates are down to lack of symptom awareness and a reluctance to visit a GP.

But campaigners said bowel cancer has an 80 per cent survival rate if it is diagnosed early.

Key symptoms of lung and bowel cancer are blood in excrement for three or more weeks, a cough which has not shifted after three weeks, constant breathlessness and coughing up blood.

Derek Box, from Eastbourne, was told he had cancer 10 years ago when he visited his GP after noticing blood in his stools.

The 59-year-old flooring company director said, “When you’re sat there and told that, it’s like the end of the world, it doesn’t matter who you are.

“The biggest thing really is if it’s identified and treated early, the recovery rate is very, very good.

“It’s something you have to be aware of, but if it’s confirmed that you have bowel cancer then you are in the hands of a specialist team.

“The main thing is to get it identified as early as possible and then the recovery rate is brilliant.”

He said staff at Eastbourne DGH had been very reassuring and professional during his treatment and said people should not find embarrassment a barrier.

He said, “After having the operation I can assure you I’m not embarrassed about anything down there any more.

“But I’m still here and that’s the important thing.”

A spokesperson for the campaign said, “With early diagnosis many cancers can be treated successfully with just one single operation and no further treatments.”