'Let's talk about Cancer' shop opens

27 September 2012

Mayor backs new campaign to improve earlier detection of cancer

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today backed a new campaign aimed at empowering Londoners to detect the symptoms of cancer earlier.

The 'Get to know cancer' campaign, launched in a partnership between the Mayor, NHS London and London Councils, aims to change attitudes to cancer and increase early diagnosis.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'Cancer is an issue that will affect an estimated four in ten Londoners at some point in their lives. Although it’s more widely known that cancer is easier to beat when it is diagnosed at an early stage, often the fear surrounding that dreaded C word can lead to people avoiding the issue completely. We want to break down the taboo and encourage people to speak out more quickly with any concerns.'

The campaign will include the opening of the first ever 'Get to know cancer' pop-up shops in the UK, which opens in Croydon tomorrow (Friday 28 September). A second is set to open in Haringey in January. The shops will provide an opportunity for people to ask questions about cancer and air concerns which they might not feel comfortable discussing with family and friends.

In the Croydon shop, cancer specialists and nurses from Croydon University Hospital, Royal Marsden and charities Cancer Research UK and Macmillan will be on hand to talk about cancer and the importance of early diagnosis and spotting symptoms. If the pilot is successful it is hoped that the shops will be rolled out more widely across London.

A pan-London campaign featuring Londoners from across the capital that have beaten or are beating cancer and now live fulfilling lives will also launch. The poster campaign, which features the strap line 'It's treatable, even beatable', illustrates through real life examples that people survive cancer and aims to encourage Londoners to learn more about the disease and fear it less.

The myhealthlondon website, launched by the Mayor of London last year, will also support the campaign with a 'virtual' Get to Know Cancer shop. The site will feature the inspiring stories of Londoners, a map of local services, charities and activities, as well as signs and symptoms information, GP advice and videos.

Dr Andy Mitchell, Medical Director at NHS London, said: 'Good progress has been made to really improve cancer care in London. However, we know that the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome for the patient. This campaign will encourage people to do the single most important thing to beat cancer - speak up about any cancer fears they might have and get help as soon as possible.'

Councillor Teresa O'Neill, lead member for health at London Councils, said: 'We hope that this public awareness campaign will encourage people to see a doctor if they are worried about having cancer symptoms. An early diagnosis is vital to a person’s chances of survival so it’s crucial that anyone who is concerned seeks help.

'From April 2013, London’s councils will take over responsibility for public health and this is just one example of how the boroughs, the Mayor, and the NHS can work together to try and improve the life chances of people in the capital.'

Victoria Borwick, Statutory Deputy Mayor for London, said: 'It is hoped that this new campaign will help Londoners to feel more hopeful about the potential outcome of cancer and realise that although obviously very frightening in many cases the disease is treatable.'

Croydon Council's cabinet member for adult services and health, Councillor Margaret Mead, said: 'For some people talking about cancer can be really hard. The Get to Know Cancer pop-up shop is a place where people can go and talk informally about cancer, its causes and treatment. The more we know about cancer, the more able we are to catch and prevent it early. We are delighted to be pioneering this excellent initiative in Croydon.'

Please visit www.gettoknowcancer.org to find out more about the campaign.



1: Case Study of Cancer Survivor

Jane Reade, 45

Type of cancer:

Breast cancer

How it was found:

In October 2010, aged 44, Jane found a lump when showering and went to her GP after a couple of days. Jane had a hospital appointment within two weeks, where she was diagnosed with breast cancer but had to wait for results of samples taken from her lymph nodes before she knew it hadn’t spread further.

How it was treated:

Jane had eight sessions of chemotherapy – four ‘normal’ doses and four stronger doses, which shrunk the tumour from 7cms to 3cms – and finished her sessions in April 2011. Jane then had a single mastectomy in June 2011 before starting 15 sessions of radiotherapy (once a day, five days a week, for three weeks). Jane has since had intravenous treatments every three weeks for 12 months, which are due to finish in September 2012, and will take other medication for at least five years. Jane is due to have breast reconstruction early next year.


2: Case Study of Cancer Survivor

Laurel Johnson, 50

Type of cancer:

oesophageal (cancer of the gullet)

How it was found:

In January/February 2006, Laurel was suffering with a sore throat. After a couple of visits to the GP, she was sent for tests in hospital. These went on for a few months, and she was diagnosed with cancer in June.

How it was treated:

Surgery was deemed too dangerous – the cancer was aggressive – so Laurel had courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time. The treatment really knocked her out, and she was in hospital for 12 days after her first session. The rest of the year was also tough – Laurel had to be fed through a tube because she couldn’t swallow, and she struggled to walk because the therapy left her weak. But she stopped treatment in October, and started slowly getting better. The following March, Laurel went into remission, and by the summer, she was able to start eating soft foods again. By the end of the year, Laurel was feeling better and back on her feet. Laurel is now back to her active self, and plays a big role in her local cancer network and community.

How long clear/in remission:

Five years


Notes to editors


  1. More case studies of Londoners that have survived cancer and who are supporting the campaign are available on request.
  2. Under the leadership of the Mayor, London Councils and NHS London have come together to form the London Health Improvement Board. The board will focus on four priorities: childhood obesity, alcohol issues, the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer and data collation. The board, for the first time, takes a pan London strategic view of health enabling a number of agencies to come together to deliver interventions and impact on London health on a once for London. Priorities have been chosen that are relevant to all London boroughs and that can benefit from pan London interventions and delivery. For more information: www.lhib.org.uk
  3. The ambition of the London Health Improvement Board (LHIB) is to increase early diagnosis of cancer in London by 10 per cent over three years.
  4. The Croydon 'Get to know cancer' shop is set up in partnership between Croydon Council and the London Health Improvement Board. It opens for five weeks from 28 September until 4 November in Centrale Shopping Centre. Nurses and cancer specialists from Croydon University Hospital, Royal Marsden and charities Cancer Research UK and Macmillan will be on hand to offer health advice as well as information about cancer, the importance of early diagnosis and symptoms. Volunteer Cancer activists will also be helping out by meeting and greeting visitors and providing information.
  5. myhealthlondon www.myhealth.london.nhs.uk is an award winning website launched in December 2011 as a public information site for London. It offers Londoners the ability to access information about the quality of GP services in the capital by publishing a set of quality standards that represent the minimum patients should expect from general practice. It also provides a dedicated channel on services in London for veterans, information on the numbers of GPs offering online services such as appointment bookings, repeat prescriptions and access to online medical records. The site will be added to further in coming months with additional offerings such as information on dementia services and care homes, maternity, acute, and emergency services.