A CAMPAIGN to highlight the impact of cancer on black and ethnic minority communities has been launched in Leeds.
Cancer Does Not Discriminate is aiming to combat cultural myths to ensure people go to their GP early with suspected symptoms to have the best chance of overcoming the illness.
Among minority communities, fewer people take up cancer screening invitations and there are higher levels of some cancers.
Prostate cancer rates among African and African Caribbean men are three times higher than in white men, while cervical cancer incidences for South Asian female pensioners are twice as high as those for white women.
The new campaign is being run by Leeds-based BME Cancer Voice, sponsored by city healthcare provider OneMedicalGroup.
Heather Nelson, national director of BME Cancer Voice, said: “It is essential for individuals to go as early as possible to their GP with any signs and symptoms. However if they do not know what to look for, or are misinformed, it is likely that presentation at their GP will be later and prognosis less positive.
“We are excited at the response thus far towards the national campaign Cancer Does Not Discriminate 2014 from diverse communities, celebrities and sports personalities alike.”
The launch at Leeds Town Hall was hosted by Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, while speakers included patients talking about their experiences of the illness and treatment.
A survey by BME Cancer Voice, which was launched earlier this year at the House of Commons, highlighted issues for patients including that over half who needed a prosthesis were not offered one of the right colour for their skin tone.
Rachel Beverley-Stevenson, chief executive of OneMedicalGroup, added: “This is an opportunity to work together to narrow the gap in patients’ cancer experience and dispel many of the myths and misconceptions which exist among the black minority ethnic groups about the disease.”