ACTION Cancer is set to target an additional 1,000 people a year in Northern Ireland with breast screening and health checks designed to save lives and reduce cancer incidence, it has been revealed.
The move will see the charity’s Big Bus mobile screening and health promotion unit, which is sponsored by retailer SuperValu, operational on two extra days a month. Last year more than 4,500 women in local communities were screened for breast cancer on the Big Bus, and over 2,600 men and women had health checks, including tests for cholesterol and lung capacity, facial skin scanning and full body composition analysis.
The Big Bus was previously operational from Tuesday to Saturday most weeks of the year, but will now also be on the road for two Mondays each month, from mid February.
Action Cancer Big Bus co-ordinator Seán Conlon announced the extension of the Big Bus service, saying: “The Big Bus was launched in 2006 and has been out and about in communities across Northern Ireland ever since, providing digital breast screening to 20,000 women and MOT health checks to 15,000 people. It brings crucial cancer services right to people’s doorsteps, which is convenient for things like childcare, and because we also go to workplaces, it means people can use the services without taking time off work.
“We are delighted to be able to upscale the Big Bus service and accommodate another 1,000 appointments each year; screening almost 50 more women and providing health advice to another 40 people, each month.”
Services provided on the Big Bus, which is fully accessible for people with disabilities by means of a wheelchair lift, include digital breast screening for women aged between 40 and 49 and over 70, health promotion and MOT health checks for men and women. A full body composition analysis using the latest technology provides clients with information on their height, weight, body mass index and more, and also offers health awareness and weight loss guidance, encouraging people to adapt to a healthier lifestyle.
Big Bus staff can provide information on complementary therapies and other cancer support services such as counselling, a Listening Ear Service, and support groups, which are available for cancer patients, their carers and families at the charity’s headquarters in Belfast and at other locations.
Independent retailer SuperValu has sponsored Action Cancer’s mobile services for 11 years, with stores raising more than £1 million of funding for the service over that period, which helped launch the Big Bus and pays for ongoing running costs.
Jenni Barkley from SuperValu commented: “SuperValu’s independent retailers across Northern Ireland have been committed to Action Cancer for the long-term in an effort to save lives and reduce cancer risk in the communities where their stores trade. The funding we provide helps keep the service moving, but crucially it also helps with development of the service, including this move to extra service days. We are very proud to be able to help make that happen.”
The Big Bus targets areas in Northern Ireland where cancer risk is greatest and where uptake of screening services is low. Individuals wishing to make an appointment for a service and groups and companies wishing to make a booking for the Big Bus to visit their location should telephone Action Cancer on 028 9080 3344 or use the dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org