The East London Programme: Background and Aims

Cancerkin’s East London Programme was launched in 2009 in response to the report that Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham had some of the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the UK (reported in Public Health reports and the National Cancer Reform Strategy Report).

Late diagnosis of cancer and patients failing to follow up on post-operative treatments or check-ups, due to either fear, ignorance, stigma, taboo, cultural inhibition and language barriers, were highlighted as the two main reasons for these high breast cancer mortality rates.

On top of this, there is very limited non-medical support for cancer patients in East London. Medical treatment can target a patient’s cancer successfully, but may be accompanied by many physical and psychological side-effects that can be distressing e.g. loss of hair, issues around sexuality, family relationships, job problems, fear of death, cultural attitudes towards cancer, surgery, and treatments.

Cancerkin’s 25 years of experience shows that complementary therapies partnered with support networks can help breast cancer patients cope with these problems and make them feel better about themselves.

To address these issues, Cancerkin works in collaboration with local partners in East London to:

  • Raise breast awareness through the Awareness Ambassador Project, taking into account different cultures and languages in East London, so as to increase the level of understanding of breast cancer and the importance of early diagnosis and completion of treatments;
  •  Provide support through complementary therapy sessions in local venues to help patients cope better with their illness, better understand their condition and encourage the completion of treatments.