UK supermarket chain Morrisons has said that it had joined forces with the state-run National Health Service to put advice labels on underwear about the early warning signs of breast and testicular cancer.
The initiative arrives amid record waiting times for NHS treatment due to a pandemic backlog, repeated doctors’ strikes and long-term hardships in retaining staff.Morrison’s will initially place the advice labels in boxer shorts in its Nutmeg clothing line, heeded by crop-top bras in the coming months.
NHS guidance about early signs incorporating changes to the gaze and shape of breasts or painless swellings in testicles will be accompanied by a QR code linking consumers to more thorough information on the NHS website.
“This is the first time the whole of the NHS has worked with a national supermarket brand to put health messaging on clothing, to encourage thousands more people to be body aware, so they can spot new or unexplained changes that might be symptoms early,” said NHS England’s national director for cancer Cally Palmer.
The NHS chief said overall survival rates were at an all-time high but pointed out that the earlier the disease is detected the higher the probability of successful treatment.
The UK government said last week that cancer treatment targets in England would be simplified from October to diagnose treating patients’ faster. The new technique aims to diagnose 75 per cent of people at an early stage.
Some charities welcomed the treatment shake-up but others cautioned steps still need to be taken to tackle the country’s “current disastrous cancer performance”.Testicular cancer may present as a painless swelling or a lump in one of the testicles or any transition in the physique or texture of the testicles. Not all lumps will be cancerous, but they need inspecting.
NHS England’s National Director for Cancer, Dame Cally Palmer, said: “This is the first time the whole of the NHS has worked with a national supermarket brand to put health messaging on clothing, to encourage thousands more people to be body aware, so they can spot new or unexplained changes that might be cancer symptoms early, and contact their GP practice for checks if concerned.
“Cancer survival is at an all-time high – survival for both breast and testicular has improved greatly over the last 50 years and we’re seeing more people than ever before diagnosed at an early stage – and this partnership with Morrisons is just one of the many ways we are securing people are aware of potential cancer symptoms.
Oncologist Pat Price, co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign said the target needed to be 95 per cent not 75 per cent. “The only measure that will ‘move the dial’ is the development and implementation of a radical new plan backed up with smart investment in people and kit,” she said.
Research published last month by the Swedish Institute for Health Economics found survival rates in the UK weakened behind those of other European countries. Royal College of Radiologists president Jeanette Dickson said in June the impact of doctor needs was being felt across the country and was ‘affecting the NHS’s ability to diagnose and treat cancer promptly’.
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