Background: This work aimed to assess the effects of the annual breast cancer awareness campaign on internet search activity, and to compare these effects with those of similar campaigns in prostate and lung cancer. We further aimed to assess overall levels of online activity relating to all three neoplasms between 2004 and 2009.
Methods: Google Insights for Search was employed to examine search trends for the term "breast cancer", across all Google domains between January 2004 and December 2009 (6 years). Search trends for both "prostate cancer" and "lung cancer" across all domains were also analysed for the same period, and these trends were compared with those for "breast cancer". Repeated measures ANOVA and Tukey post-hoc analyses were performed to assess for significant differences in activity.
Results: Increased levels of online activity relating to breast cancer are consistently generated each October. There is a significantly higher level of background activity in breast cancer compared with that in lung or prostate cancer (p < 0.001), and the October campaign stimulates online activity more effectively than equivalent campaigns for these other malignancies (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The annual breast cancer awareness campaign is proving effective in stimulating online activity and may hold useful lessons for other cancer awareness initiatives.