Headlines: September 3rd, 2004

The health needs of Britain’s Chinese population are being ignored in spite of Government commitments to tackle health inequalities amongst patients, according to a report following the first ever study of the issue. Now a leading cancer charity is to fund a specialist worker to try to tack the problems.The CIRCLE – cancer Information Relating to Chinese People in London and Environs – study was funded by Macmillan Cancer Relief. It found many Chinese people believe cancer can be caused by a bad mood, a weak body or poor quality blood. They believe, too, that food plays a part in causing cancer with bread, chicken skin and mouldy food being of most concern. The study also found a great reluctance to talk about cancer, even to close relatives. Most significantly the study found that Chinese people lack important information on the prevention of cancer, its causes, early symptoms and screening programmes.

The report’s authors say that as English is not a first language for many Chinese people living here information is needed in Chinese and in different formats. Communication barriers mean many Chinese people could be missing vital cancer diagnoses leading to delays in treatment.

Co-author Melanie Ridge, Macmillan Primary Care Cancer Information Specialist, said the study highlighted the lack of knowledge about the needs of the Chinese population in relation to cancer and accessing services. In the light of the results, Macmillan Cancer Relief is to fund the first Chinese Primary Care Cancer Information worker who will be based at Westminster Chinese Library, within Charing Cross Library in London.