Be Cancer Aware

Be Cancer Aware

Be Cancer Aware is a co-production project that works with experts by experience from across the North East and Cumbria.

Together we deliver education and training to the learning disability community and support campaigns raising awareness of cancer.

On 28th September 2022 we were proud to be recognised by the Patient Engagement Network National Awards.

Runners up in the category Cancer Experience of Care and WINNERS in the category Engaging and Championing the public.

Be Cancer Aware team


You can see our presentation from the PENNA awards here, it gives a flavor of the amazing work the team have done.

Why is it important

From the CIPOLD (Confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disability) inquiry and LeDeR (Learning from deaths review) reports we know:

  • For people with a learning disability, cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage, with concerns of diagnostic overshadowing and a lack of reasonable adjustments to support diagnosis and treatment.
  • There are significantly lower uptake rates across all screening programmes.
  • Those with a diagnosis of cancer are less likely to: be informed of their diagnosis and prognosis, be involved in decisions about their care, be given pain relief or receive palliative care.

Be Cancer Aware training

‘Be Cancer Aware’ is FREE peer education training, designed to support people with learning disability, families and carers understand more about cancer.

‘Be Cancer Aware’ gives people the opportunity to learn about cancer in a supportive environment. Information is accessible and gives people the opportunity to ask questions.

We use role play, flash cards, stories, games and videos.

The course gives information on:

  • symptoms,
  • what to do if you have a concern,
  • what happens when you go to the GP/hospital,
  • cancer risks,
  • screening and where you can get support.


Together we have developed a range of campaigns sharing information through social media and our networks.

Staying safe in the sun

Join us for our summer 2023 campaign all about staying safe in the sun. We will be sharing messages reminding people how to stay safe in the sun to reduce their risk of developing skin cancer.


To help prevent skin cancer it is important to stay safe in the sun and avoid getting sun burn.

Don’t forget the following:

  • Use sunscreen with at least Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30
  • Drink plenty of water when it’s hot
  • Cover up with a hat and long sleeves
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck
  • Wear UV blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Don’t forget to apply sun cream to those easy to miss places – lips, tops of ears, back of neck, feet and scalp.
  • Limit your time in the sun and stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
  • Do not let your skin go red or burn.
  • Do not use a sunbed or sunlamp.

Going to the GP

Our going to the GP campaign includes three videos about getting the most out of your GP appointment. They are full of top tips for a telephone appointment, video appointment or face to face appointment.

Going to the GP for a face to face appointment

Having a telephone appointment with your GP

Having a video appointment with your GP

Easy read GP template – how to make a GP appointment

We have also created an easy read template for GP practices to explain how to make a GP appointment. The template can be adapted by practices and shared with their patients with a learning disability.

how to make an appointment at the GP practice

To support the template there is a photo bank of images practices can use in their template.

Photo bank



Reducing my cancer risk

Reducing my cancer risk shows what the Be Cancer Aware team are doing to reduce their cancer risk. The team produced a video and are sharing images through social media.

You can join the team and share what you are doing to reduce your cancer risk at #reducingmycancerrisk on twitter @necldnetwork or on facebook @NorthernCancerAlliance

If you know a group in the North East or Cumbria who would like to know more about reducing their cancer risk, get in touch and we can arrange a quiz based fun education session delivered by one of our teams.


Be Cancer Aware Videos

Be Cancer Aware: What we do

Be Cancer Aware: Signs of cancer


Be Cancer Aware: Lung Cancer


Comments from participants

“My sister had cancer. It was good to talk about it today”

“My knowledge about cancer has improved, first time done anything about cancer”

“This was fabulous! Great range of activities. Lovely atmosphere. Everyone involved. Great to use real examples of people with learning disability. Well presented. Great to dispel the myths.”

“Why is it that cancer awareness has not been talked about to adults with a learning disability?”

For more information or to book a training course

Contact: [email protected] / 07860177981 to find your closest provider

Training providers

Cumbria – People First Independent Advocacy

Durham – Durham County Council

Gateshead and South Tyneside – Your Voice Counts

Middlesbrough – Camphill Village Trust

Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland – Skills for People

Redcar and Cleveland – Skills for People

Sunderland – Sunderland People First