Objective: To compare the efficacy of men's and women's cancer awareness campaigns using internet relative search volume (RSV) as a surrogate for public interest.
Methods: We utilized Google Trends to determine the RSV for "breast cancer," "prostate cancer," and "testicular cancer" from 2010 to 2017. Baseline annual RSV for each cancer was calculated as the median annual RSV, exclusive of the awareness month period. RSV was then determined for each cancer-specific awareness month and compared to baseline. The primary outcome was 2-fold rise in RSV above baseline.
Results: Breast Cancer Awareness Month led to a significant increase in cancer-specific RSV in October each year during the study period (mean increase 180.1%). In contrast, none of the men's cancer awareness campaigns led to a significant increase in cancer-specific RSV in any year during the study period. RSV for prostate cancer increased by 2.4% and 4.1% in September and November, respectively. RSV for testicular cancer increased by 9.3% and 6.2% in April and November, respectively.
Conclusion: Men's cancer awareness campaigns did not increase cancer-specific RSV, whereas Breast Cancer Awareness Month consistently increased RSV. While additional metrics are needed to evaluate the efficacy of public health campaigns, the current data suggest the need for new approaches to generate public interest in male-specific malignancies.
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