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Comic Aherne backs cancer campaign

20 May 2014 09:13

Actress Caroline Aherne was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer as a baby

Actress Caroline Aherne was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer as a baby

Royle Family star Caroline Aherne is helping to spearhead a drive to make people more aware of the rare type of eye cancer that she suffered from during childhood.

The online campaign is being launched by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) to highlight the symptoms of retinoblastoma with the Mrs Merton star providing the voiceover for its video.

In the past the comedienne, actress and writer has also been treated for bladder cancer and last week revealed that she has been treated for lung cancer. Both those bouts of cancer are thought to be linked to the genetic form of retinoblastoma that she and her big brother, Patrick, were diagnosed with when they were babies.

Symptoms of the disease, which should be covered by a medical travel insurance policy for sufferers planning to go on holiday, can include a colour change in one eye, a squint and an abnormal reflection of light in the pupils.

Aherne, 50, who has said she will continue with her TV work following her battle with lung cancer, said it was vital that parents knew what to look for so that treatment could begin as soon as possible.

She revealed that pioneering treatment had saved the sight of herself and her brother to varying degrees, adding that she hoped the new campaign would help highlight the ways to spot early signs of the disease.

CHECT's medical advisor, Ashwin Reddy, works at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Royal London Hospital as a consultant paediatric ophthalmologist.

He said it was vital that adults who have survived retinoblastoma have regular checks in an oncology clinic as those with the genetic form were more prone to developing other forms of cancer.

The trust's chief executive, Joy Felgate, said she was sure that Aherne's input would help make the campaign a big success.

She said prompt treatment increased the chances of saving a child's sight, eyes and even their life.

She added that it was also hoped the campaign would also encourage health professionals to treat the concerns of parents seriously, even when the symptoms they were reporting were "very subtle" ones.