INCREASING numbers of people are being diagnosed with cancer in Hartlepool as the town is revealed as being among the worst area nationwide for people being screened.
Hartlepool Borough Council is set to launch an in-depth study into what can be done to combat the 34 per cent rise in cancer cases.
It comes as health chiefs have revealed that almost half of people in the town are not taking up bowel screening services and a quarter of women are not taking up cervical and breast cancer screening.
Hartlepool has one of the worst rates in England for cancer-related deaths and the council is eager to see what can be done to raise awareness and catch cases early.
Latest figures show there has been a 34 per cent increase in the number of cancer sufferers in the town from 376 in 1985 to 505 in 2008.
They also show that the annual death rate rose in the same time period from 276 to 292 people.
The investigation is set to get underway at a meeting of the council’s Health Scrutiny Forum on Thursday.
It will ask key partners what more can be done to raise awareness of the link between smoking and lung cancer, which is the most common form of the disease in Hartlepool.
Forum chairman, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, said: “It is well documented that the level of cancer-related deaths in Hartlepool is among the highest in the country and we know that there is much work being done to address this inequality.
“It is however proposed that this scrutiny investigation will look specifically at the arrangements in place around cancer awareness and early diagnosis because the quicker cancer is detected, the more chance people have of making a full recovery.
“We look forward to working together with all of the relevant organisations during this inquiry and I would also urge members of the public to attend and participate in the discussion and debate.”
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and cabinet councillor Ged Hall, who has responsibly for health, have been invited to the meeting at Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Evidence will also be sought from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Hartlepool, local GPs and the Tobacco Alliance.
NHS Hartlepool is promoting the regional campaign “Be Clear on Cancer” to highlight cervical, ovarian, bowel, lung and breast cancer and how earlier detection can save lives.
Failing to recognise early symptoms and reluctance to see a doctor are causing delays in fighting the disease, according to council papers due to be discussed at the meeting.
The study also aims to raise awareness of the common risk factors that can contribute to cancer like smoking, alcohol and bad diet.
The meeting starts at 10am and is open to the public.
Anyone needing more information about the advice, help and resources available should contact the Hartlepool Health Development team on (01429) 284270.
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