An evaluation of the impact of large-scale interventions to raise public awareness of a lung cancer symptom

Br J Cancer. 2015 Jan 6;112(1):207-16. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.596. Epub 2014 Dec 2.


Introduction: Long-term lung cancer survival in England has improved little in recent years and is worse than many countries. The Department of Health funded a campaign to raise public awareness of persistent cough as a lung cancer symptom and encourage people with the symptom to visit their GP. This was piloted regionally within England before a nationwide rollout.

Methods: To evaluate the campaign's impact, data were analysed for various metrics covering public awareness of symptoms and process measures, through to diagnosis, staging, treatment and 1-year survival (available for regional pilot only).

Results: Compared with the same time in the previous year, there were significant increases in metrics including: public awareness of persistent cough as a lung cancer symptom; urgent GP referrals for suspected lung cancer; and lung cancers diagnosed. Most encouragingly, there was a 3.1 percentage point increase (P<0.001) in proportion of non-small cell lung cancer diagnosed at stage I and a 2.3 percentage point increase (P<0.001) in resections for patients seen during the national campaign, with no evidence these proportions changed during the control period (P=0.404, 0.425).

Conclusions: To our knowledge, the data are the first to suggest a shift in stage distribution following an awareness campaign for lung cancer. It is possible a sustained increase in resections may lead to improved long-term survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cough / etiology*
  • England
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • General Practitioners
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health / methods
  • Survivors
  • Television