Bowel cancer campaign resumes as pilots spark rise in GP visits

A DH-backed bowel cancer campaign resumed from 28 August for five weeks, after pilots sparked a 30% rise in GP visits among over-50s about key symptoms.

The campaign will be centred on TV and radio advertisements, and over 100 face-to-face events will take place around the country.

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign aims to raise public awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer, and make it easier for people to discuss this with their GP.

Care services minister Paul Burstow said: ‘Early diagnosis makes a huge difference to your chance of survival. That’s why we’re building on the success of our recent national campaign which led to more people getting checked out by their GP.’

Early analysis from a pilot of the campaign in early 2012 found a 30% increase in patients over the age of 50 reporting key campaign-related symptoms to their GP, according to the DH. Findings were taken from 340 GP practices.

In a joint statement, Bowel Cancer UK chief executive Deborah Alsina and Beating Bowel Cancer chief executive Mark Flannagan backed a repeat of the campaign. ‘It is essential that we keep reminding people of the key messages about symptoms and the importance of going to your GP if you have any concerns,’ they said.

The campaign was also piloted in the South West and East of England in early 2011. An evaluation of the Bowel Cancer Awareness Pilot showed a 48% increase in the number of people over the age of 50 presenting themselves to GPs with relevant symptoms. This is equivalent to one extra patient per practice per week.

However an earlier DH report on the £9m pilot project questioned the impact on people’s awareness of cancer symptoms.

The national trend showed an increase in referrals in campaign areas as well as control ones.

For bowel cancer, a 16% increase in urgent GP referrals was seen in both areas.

GP magazine reported last month that the relaunch of the campaign could trigger a rise in visits to practices.

Be Clear on Cancer
Incorporating TV and radio advertising as well as face-to-face events around the country, the campaign, which runs until the end of September, features real GPs and encourages people who have had blood in their poo or looser poo for three weeks or more to see their doctor.

Watch Professor Mike Richards introduce the ad below

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