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Plea from cancer survivor to GPs


A FORMER smoker and cancer survivor whose story went around the world is encouraging more GPs to help patients to quit and avoid 16 different types of smoking-related cancer.


Maggie Bratton was diagnosed with mouth cancer at the age of just 45, resulting in an operation to remove the roof of her mouth. After undergoing an operation to remove the roof of her mouth, Maggie has to wear an obturator - a piece of plastic which enables her to eat and speak. Watch Maggie's new film.


Fresh is re-launching the Quit 16 campaign today (Monday Feb 4) in the run up to No Smoking Day (Wednesday, March 13) featuring the experiences of Maggie and Tony Osbourne, from Middlesbrough, who was diagnosed with laryngeal (throat) cancer when he was 52


A prompt from a healthcare professional is the second most common reason for a smoker to make a quit attempt and around 6/10 smokers would like to quit. But a concern is that quit attempts triggered by GPs and primary care have fallen over the last decade.


With smokers seeing their GP more than non-smokers and the North East still having some of the highest smoking rates in the country in more deprived wards, it means North East GPs are in a vital position to help prevent more disease and reduce the cost of £127m a year to the North East NHS from smoking


Maggie said: "The reaction to the campaign has been absolutely incredible and not what I expected. I have had responses from all over the world from people saying they have tried to pack in smoking since they saw my film. I would say don't end up like me. Pack in before the dreaded cancer hits you.


"When I was a smoker, I just figured maybe there was a chance I would get lung cancer when I was older. But I didn't ever realise the range of cancers smoking causes, or that I might get one of them in my 40s.


"I think now the difference is there is so much evidence of the effects of smoking. But if my GP had maybe put that question to me when I was younger I think I would have asked for some help to quit. If you smoke and your GP doesn't mention it, it's too easy to assume it can't be important.


"A family doctor can make all the difference. GPs are the first port of call for anyone with a health concern and are in a position to prevent this happening to more people like me."


Dr Chris Tasker, CRUK Strategic GP for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: "Cancer and lung disease doesn't just affect people when they are old, it can affect you in your 40s and 50s and when you're really quite young. The other thing that happens, as well as having death by cancer unfortunately, is that your quality of life can be destroyed. Watch Dr Chris Tasker talking about how GPs can help, and give advice about vaping.




"If you ask your GP or your practice they will point you in the right direction, whether it's in the practice or the local pharmacy or stop smoking service. It is important to talk to people who smoke about why it is important to quit and the many ways nowadays for people can increase their chances of success. The other thing we're seeing a lot more of these days is vaping. It's a lot less harmful to vape than to smoke. And I certainly would say if someone is a smoker, if they could switch completely to vaping instead of smoking that will be beneficial to their health."


Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: "We have had an incredible reaction to the Quit 16 campaign. There are thousands of people like Tony and Maggie who are living with a smoking related disease and we applaud them for coming forward to share their story.


"Tony and Maggie's stories do not make comfortable viewing, but campaigns are an important way to encourage people to stop, help people to stay quit, and give young people reasons not to start in the first place. Every doctor and nurse is in a unique position to help stop more people like Maggie and Tony being diagnosed in the future."


Tony Osborne was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer when he was 52. Surgeons removed much of the inside of Tony's neck, including his voice box, leaving him with a stoma (hole) in his throat through which he had to learn to breathe and talk again. Watch Tony's TV advert and his film.


The Quit 16 campaign, from Fresh, is supported by Cancer Research UK. With smoking causing 14.7% of new cancer cases and 27% of all cancer deaths in England, it is estimated that smoking causes 44,100 new cases of cancer and over 36,600 deaths from cancer a year