Call for Champions to Boost Bradford’s Low Cancer Screening Rates

16 November 2018

Women from Bradford’s South Asian community are being urged to help boost the ‘shockingly low’ uptake of cancer screening that is putting lives at risk.

The campaign, backed by Bradford West MP Naz Shah, aims to boost the number of women aware of the cancer screening programmes by at least 2,000 by February of next year.

Naz Shah, together with representatives from local GP practices and current community champions, will speak about their experiences at an official launch of the campaign.

The campaign, Wise Up To Cancer, involves The University of Bradford and Yorkshire Cancer Research working with 10 community pharmacies and two GP practices, The Ridge Medical Practice and Avicenna Medical Practice, on a research project to improve the uptake of cancer screening among South Asian women in Bradford. The work is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport via the Tampon Tax Fund.

Professor Marcus Rattray of the University of Bradford said: “In Bradford, only 1 in 3 people take up bowel screening, just over half of women take up breast screening and only 6 in 10 of women take up cervical screening, all below the national average. The uptake rate for cancer screening among South Asian women in Bradford is particularly low.

"The project aims to understand why women are not participating in cancer screening and to do something about the shockingly low uptake of cancer screening that is putting women’s lives at risk. The project has already made good progress and now we want to take it further, to bring the benefits to even more women."

The campaign is calling for women in the local community to volunteer and be trained as community health champions. These champions will talk with women, often in group settings, so that they become more aware of cancer screening, and feel more comfortable in taking part. In addition, the champions will talk to women about lifestyle, including diet and exercise, which are important factors in reducing the risk of cancer.

So far, 20 volunteer community health champions have spoken with over 100 women. In addition, Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire has worked with 10 local pharmacies to train pharmacy champions to engage with women in Wise Up To Cancer conversations, and have so far spoken with around 500 women.

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: "It’s essential that important health messages are delivered in the most effective way possible. This means asking influential people within specific communities in Yorkshire to act as our ambassadors and reach people that would otherwise be extremely difficult to connect with. We’re pleased that so much progress has been made through our Wise Up To Cancer Bradford project, but we’d like to help even more women take small steps towards a long and healthy life."

South Asian women living in Bradford can volunteer to be a community champion by visiting

The Wise Up To Cancer scheme, pioneered by Yorkshire Cancer Research and originally launched in the Leeds and Wakefield areas, is part of a major drive to encourage healthy lifestyles and raise awareness of cancer signs and symptoms and the importance of screening.




Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email:

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
  • For further information, please visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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