Did the 'Be Clear on Bowel Cancer' public awareness campaign pilot result in a higher rate of cancer detection?

Postgrad Med J. 2013 Jul;89(1053):390-3. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2012-131014. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


Objectives: To assess the impact of a 7-week public bowel cancer awareness campaign pilot by reviewing the number of 2-week referrals from general practitioners (GPs) to hospital, endoscopic procedures and new cancers diagnosed throughout the five acute hospitals in The Peninsular Cancer Network, UK.

Design: A retrospective before and after study.

Setting: The Peninsula Cancer Network in the South West of England, UK.

Main outcome measures: For the period July 2010-July 2011, data were collected on the number of 2-week referrals, number of endoscopic procedures performed and number of new cancers diagnosed. The average for the 6 months before the campaign was compared with the immediate 3 months and then the fourth to sixth months following the campaign. Student's t test was used to compare the means of the three groups.

Results: There was a statistically significant increase in the number of 2-week referrals from GPs to hospital in the 3 months following the campaign but this effect disappeared after that. There was no statistical increase in the number of endoscopic procedures or new cancers diagnosed following the awareness campaign.

Conclusions: The pilot 'Be Clear on Cancer' awareness campaign had a significant effect on the number of patients being referred from GPs to hospital; however, the effect was short lived and had returned to baseline by 3 months. The campaign had no effect on the number of new cancers diagnosed, which was the stated underlying aim of the pilot.


Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • General Practice* / organization & administration
  • General Practice* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors