Yorkshire Cancer Research Launches Community Health Programme for South Asian Women

09 July 2018

A community health programme aimed at increasing the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer will be expanded to support South Asian women living in Bradford.

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

The Bradford project, carried out in partnership with the University of Bradford and delivered from May 2018 to February 2019, will offer South Asian women a ‘chat about health’ in community and pharmacy settings. It will also offer further support to help women attend screening appointments if their screening is overdue. The programme will focus primarily on the BD3, BD5, BD7 and BD8 postcodes in the city.

The chats in local community venues will be delivered by community health champion volunteers who are local South Asian women provided with training at the University. The chats held in pharmacies will be delivered by dedicated members of the pharmacy team called ‘pharmacy health champions’. They are supported by Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire, which also helped to deliver a similar programme in the Wakefield district.

The project will also involve two GP practices in Bradford – The Ridge Medical Practice and Avicenna Medical Practice – who will send text messages, make phone calls and talk with women who have not taken part in cancer screening when previously invited.

1) from left, Pharmacy health champions Nabila Parveen, from Health-Check Pharmacy, and Kiran Waheed, from Midnight Pharmacy, community health champion Nazmin Sheikh, pharmacy health champion Saabiha Nawaz, from Health-Check Pharmacy, Dr Amir Khan, GP at the Ridge Medical Practice, and pharmacy health champion Nosheen Munir, from Midnight Pharmacy, celebrate the launch of the new Wise Up To Cancer Bradford programme.

Researchers led by Dr Melanie Cooper and Professor Marcus Rattray at the University of Bradford, will evaluate the programme to assess how effective it has been in increasing participation in screening to help identify cancers sooner, and how it can be improved to save more lives.

The project has been made possible thanks to the support of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which provided a £216,000 award through its Tampon Tax Fund.

Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research & Services at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “The Wise Up To Cancer programme has shown promising results in Leeds and Wakefield, with many people setting and achieving positive health goals. It’s exciting that we are now branching out into Bradford and working with South Asian women to develop the scheme so it works for their community.”

The number of people taking part in the national cancer screening programmes in Bradford is lower than the national average. This research will examine how South Asian women can be encouraged to increase their participation in screening services. This is an urgent and important issue to address since Bradford has the lowest bowel cancer screening rate in England, the third lowest rate for breast and the fifth lowest for cervical cancer screening. In 2016 to 2017 just over a third of eligible people living in Bradford had taken part in the bowel cancer screening programme in the last two and a half years, compared to nearly two thirds of the national eligible population 1.

Screening for cancer is a vital tool in diagnosing cancer at an early stage. This increases treatment options and chances of survival 2.

The number of people diagnosed with cancer as an emergency in the Bradford area is also a concern as it indicates a lack of awareness of signs and symptoms 3. The project encourages people in Bradford to better understand cancer symptoms and participate in more healthy behaviours that can reduce the risk of cancer, including healthy eating and more physical activity 4.

Melanie Cooper of the University of Bradford and Academic Lead for the project said:
“As a health professional and having worked in Bradford for 25 years, I am passionate to ensure that all women have the same opportunities for a healthy life and access to health services including cancer screening. I am proud that the University of Bradford is working with our partners to provide this opportunity for local South Asian women and I am delighted to lead the project.”

2) Back row from left: Ruth Buchan, Chief Executive Officer for Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire, Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research and Services at Yorkshire Cancer Research, Professor Marcus Rattray, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Bradford, and Dr Amir Khan, GP at the Ridge Medical Practice. Front row: Pharmacy health champion Kiran Waheed, from Midnight Pharmacy, community health champion Nazmin Sheikh, Dr Daisy Payne, Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the University of Bradford, Lisa Trickett, Community Health Initiatives Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research, and pharmacy health champions Saabiha Nawaz, from Health-Check Pharmacy, Nosheen Munir, from Midnight Pharmacy, and Nabila Parveen, from Health-Check Pharmacy.

Nisa Almas, Community Health Champion Co-ordinator, University of Bradford, said: “Women from South Asian communities have a wealth of expertise and insight in uniting and taking practical steps to overcome barriers and improve community wellbeing. The Wise Up To Cancer project is another milestone in this journey, with health champions from the community, supporting one another in the community, to have those difficult conversations around cancer screening whilst also raising awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

Ruth Buchan, Chief Executive Officer for Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire, said: “Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire are delighted to be a partner in the Wise Up To Cancer project. This is a great opportunity, which will enable community pharmacy teams to offer those within their community a targeted chat about cancer signs and symptoms, cancer screening and healthy lifestyles. Wise Up To Cancer allows community pharmacy to grow the existing offer that we make to our communities in helping them to stay healthy and well.”

Dr Amir Khan, GP at the Ridge Medical Practice said: “The Ridge Medical Practice is proud to be part of this project with Yorkshire Cancer Research. We hope by providing information to our patients in a way that is relatable to them they will understand the importance of cancer screening and a healthy lifestyle and how it can save lives. We hope to make a real difference to these women, who are often the backbone of our community and our families, so they can continue to lead healthy happy lives.“

Sarah Rhodes, Practice and Business Manager, Avicenna Medical Practice said: “The Avicenna Medical Practice is extremely enthusiastic and keen to be part of this fantastic project offering screening advice and explaining the importance of all cancer screening services to our patients. In taking part we hope to encourage and make a real difference to the lives of these patients and their families and build a foundation for healthy living now and in the future.”

For more information on the Wise Up To Cancer programme, please visit www.ycr.org.uk/wiseuptocancer.



  1. National General Practice Profiles https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/
  2. http://www.ncin.org.uk/publications/survival_by_stage
  3. https://www.cancerdata.nhs.uk/routestodiagnosis
  4. Parkin, Boyd & Walker (2011) British Journal of Cancer 105, S77-S81, https://www.nature.com/articles/bjc2011489.epdf


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: nikki@ycr.org.uk

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.
    • Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
  • For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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