Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance is committed to ensuring prevention is a key feature of our work. We know that the risk of cancer depends on multiple factors including lifestyle, genetic predisposition and environment. Four in ten cancers could be avoided by simple lifestyle changes such as:
· Stopping smoking,
· Eating a healthy, balanced diet,
· Getting more exercise,
· Reducing our alcohol intake,
· Avoiding sunbed use and over exposure to the sun
Cancer screening programmes play a significant role in identifying early signs that may lead to cancer and offer an opportunity to detect cancer at an earlier stage.
The Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Prevention Steering Group has been established bringing together key partners to go further on cancer prevention at scale. Examples of the work of the group include:
· Implementing Making Every Contact Count (MECC) in cancer pathways which seeks to change lifestyle behaviours through teachable moments
· Developing an approach to improving smoking cessation support in secondary care
· Identifying opportunities to increase screening coverage and uptake
Making Every Contact Count
Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that uses day to day interactions with people to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing. MECC enables individuals to engage in conversations underpinned by consistent information and support.
The majority of individuals who have an investigative test following presentation with symptoms of cancer will have contact with the healthcare system. This represents a ‘teachable moment’ whereby the individual may be more receptive to conversations about improving their health through lifestyle changes. Members of the Cancer Prevention Steering Group have worked collaboratively with partners across C&M to embed MECC and capitalise on such teachable moments.
Early Diagnosis Support Workers, funded by CMCA and working across lung and colorectal cancer pathways have received training in Making Every Contact Count and are now engaging people in those diagnostic pathways. They are supported by localised information about how to make lifestyle changes and the services available should the conversation lead to a desire to make lifestyle change. The MECC approach has since been expanded to 90 dental practices to enable conversations to take place at an earlier stage.
CURE Project - Smoking cessation in secondary care
Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for the development of cancer and is directly linked to at least 15 different types of malignancy. In Cheshire and Merseyside the prevalence of smoking is among the highest in the country and consequently there is a high prevalence of lung, oral and oesophageal cancer. National and local work to reduce the rate of smoking is having a positive impact with smoking rates continuing to fall. Despite this we want to go further faster on supporting people to stop smoking. CMCA is funding a pilot project to promote smoking cessation at scale for all patients admitted to a hospital trust. This pilot is based on the successful Ottawa model of smoking cessation.
The CURE programme offers a more supportive approach to smokers, treating smoking as an addiction and offering all inpatients who smoke immediate and comprehensive medical treatment to help them to stop smoking during their admission, with on-going support post-discharge. This will also help to reinforce existing smoke-free hospital policies for the benefit of patients, visitors and staff. This project is ambitious and represents an opportunity to address smoking at scale in our region.