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.