UK government launches bowel cancer awareness campaign
7 Feb 2011
The UK Government has launched the first cancer awareness
campaign to highlight the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign is being piloted in two regions
and if successful will be rolled out across the country.
The campaign will feature GPs encouraging patients to talk to
them about changes in their poo. The new adverts aim to make people
aware of the early signs of bowel cancer and make it easier for them
to discuss this with their GP.
Adverts will appear on TV, radio and in newspapers in the East of
England and South West for seven weeks.
More than 90% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer at the early
stage survive for at least five years compared with only 6.6% of
those diagnosed at the late stage. Ten thousand lives, across all
cancers, could be saved each year if England matched the best cancer
survival rates in Europe.
Health Minister Paul Burstow said: “No one likes talking about
their poo — it’s embarrassing. But if we see something different and
tell our GP it could save our life.
“Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to cancer survival rates
and bowel cancer is one of the biggest killers. That’s why the ‘Be
Clear on Cancer’ campaign uses simple messages to make people aware
of the early signs of bowel cancer and to give them the confidence
to talk to their GP about them.
“To make sure we get it right, we’re testing this campaign in two
regions and, if it works, we’ll roll it out nationally.
“We want to concentrate on what is most important to patients and
their families — cancer outcomes. Alongside the Cancer Drugs Fund
and the new Cancer Reform Strategy which is backed by £750 million
over four years, this will help achieve that.”
Sarah Lyness, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of
communications and information, said: “We welcome this campaign
because spotting cancer early saves lives. Most changes in bowel
habits probably won’t be cancer but if they are it is much better to
be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.
“So if people notice a change that lasts three weeks or more —
whether it’s looser poo, bleeding or anything else that is unusual
for them — they should report the symptoms to their doctor without
Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said:
"The launch of this bowel cancer symptoms awareness campaign is a
major step forward in tackling the issue of late diagnosis. By
increasing awareness of the disease and encouraging people to act on
their symptoms, this campaign has the potential to save thousands of
Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK said, “We are
delighted to support the launch of the Signs and Symptoms campaign
which will feature bowel cancer. Early diagnosis is critical in
order to save lives from the disease. It is the second biggest
cancer killer in the UK, but it shouldn’t be as it is highly
treatable if caught early.
“We hope that the campaign will encourage members of the public
to recognise the symptoms of bowel cancer and act on them right away
by making an appointment to see their GP so that the disease can
either be ruled out or treated quickly.”
As well as the pilots for a national campaign, £9 million has
been made available to fund 59 local cancer awareness campaigns led
by the NHS and supported by Cancer research UK. These will target
the three biggest killers, bowel, lung and breast cancer. The
Government is already providing cutting-edge cancer therapies,
through its commitment to invest £50 million in additional cancer
drugs until the end of March and from April £200 million per year
for a Cancer Drugs Fund until the end of 2013.
Examples of local activity being funded by this campaign include:
- NHS Leeds aims to reduce mortality from lung cancer in
people aged over 50 through social marketing and community
engagement. For example, they plan to advertise on bus routes in
key areas and provide community health professionals with
branded items directing people to new services, such as self
referral chest X-ray.
- NHS Brighton and Hove whose one and five-year survival rates
for colorectal cancer are well below the national average, will
raise awareness among a target audience of the fact that a
change in bowel habits is a possible sign of colorectal cancer.
- NHS Liverpool has cancer mortality rates (among under 75s)
38% higher than the English average and significant variations
exist across the city. Lung, colorectal and breast cancer
account for nearly half of all cancer deaths in Liverpool. The
aim of the project is to increase earlier presentation of the
signs and symptoms of these cancers among prioritised groups
through the application of social marketing principles.