TALKING about cancer can help save lives.

That's the message from workshops which are enabling people across Craven and Bradford districts to have confidence-boosting conversations about all forms of the disease.

The free Talk Cancer sessions aim to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle changes and see a doctor if they notice any unusual change in their body.

Trainers from Cancer Research UK lead the interactive three-hour workshops.

Among those who have already benefited from the initiative is Ingrid Dzerins.

"I came home from a workshop and was talking to my daughter and her friend who mentioned that she was supposed to be going for cervical screening the following day," she said.

"The friend was indicating she wasn't going to go but I said 'you must' and we had quite a long conversation about it.

"Fear of the unknown was putting her off.

"I’m really pleased to say that she did attend, and she went because of that conversation.

"And it was a conversation I might not have continued if I hadn't been to the workshop.

"If people get the opportunity to attend a Talk Cancer session, they should go – they’re brilliant. The nurses are so knowledgeable, but down to earth.

"You learn about the different screenings that people are encouraged to take-up and what happens during the screening.

"They also talk about local statistics – the numbers of people that are not taking-up the opportunity to be screened for different cancers – as well as the things that may increase your chances of developing the disease.

"Cancer’s such an emotive word but now that I’ve spoken to lots of other people about it, I’m not frightened of broaching the subject.

"The more you talk about it, it’s got less fear. Hopefully that means more people will go for screening and will be less hesitant about getting symptoms checked out."

Dr Anne Connolly – clinical lead for maternity, women's health and sexual health for Bradford district and Craven clinical commissioning groups – echoes the call for women to take-up the screening offer.

"Any woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer and it is the most common cancer in women under 35," she said.

"It is vital for women to attend for screening when called as this will save lives.

"The test takes just minutes and can be performed at a GP surgery by the practice nurse or doctor.

"Most results show that everything is normal, but for around one in 20 women the test reveals some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

"The symptoms of cervical cancer are usually not obvious, and there may not be any symptoms at all until the disease has reached an advanced stage.

"This is why it’s very important for women to attend all of their cervical screening appointments.

"If a woman doesn’t know if their cervical screening is due or if it’s overdue, they should still contact the GP practice to check or make an appointment. They can also take someone with them, if that would make it easier."

For more details about the workshops, e-mail or call 01274 237605.