FORCE will again be at this year’s Honiton Show on Thursday August 6 with a team of experts on hand to give help, advice and information to anyone affected by cancer.
“Tens of thousands of people visit agricultural shows in Devon each year so this is an important opportunity for us to spread the word about all the things we do to support anyone in this part of the county who is touched by cancer,” said FORCE Chief Executive Meriel Fishwick.
FORCE will also include the highly successful mole check clinics that featured on their stand at Honiton in 2014 when 200 people took advantage of a free health check from a team of skin specialists.
A team of dermatology specialists, led by consultant Dr Tony Downs will be on hand to offer confidential help and advice and are particularly keen to see members of the farming community for whom chronic exposure to the sun is an occupational hazard.
At last year’s show they were able to give most people the all clear but did identify a number of possible melanomas, basal cell carcinomas and cases of actinic keratosis (sun damage).
“This was the perfect place to capture people who are likely to spend a lot of time outdoors and are therefore at risk of sun damage and skin cancer,” said Dr Downs.
“The vast majority of the people we saw had harmless lesions or blemishes that we were able to reassure them were benign – so saving a GP trip or a hospital referral,” he added.
The drop-in service Dr Downs and his team offered at the show was not part of any regular NHS work.
“Walk-in skin check clinics by dermatology experts are unlike in countries such as Australia – not felt to be worth resourcing in the UK. This is despite having extremely high levels of skin cancer in the South West – comparable to Australia. Without a charity like FORCE, my team and I would have no way of providing this free lesion check service,” said Dr Downs.
“A lot of people, particularly men and particularly agricultural workers, do not see their doctor for trivial problems like skin blemishes until it is too late. By being at the show we can give an opportunistic consultant dermatology specialist opinion for those that want one,” he said.
FORCE, which has a support and information centre in the grounds of the RD&E Hospital in Exeter, is looking to increase its presence in East Devon.
“We are currently working on plans to outreach our support services to the East of the county once a suitable location has been identified,” said Mrs Fishwick.