New cancer campaign to be piloted in West Midlands

10 February 2017

A government-backed publicity campaign to raise awareness of ‘tummy troubles’ that could be early signs of cancer is getting test run in the West Midlands.

It will focus on symptoms relating to the abdomen - such as diarrhoea, bloating or general discomfort - which could be indicators of bowel, ovarian or pancreatic cancer. The campaign is supported by the Public Health England under its Be Clear on Cancer slogan.

The main aim is to encourage people who have suffered with abdominal pain for three weeks or more to get checked out by their GP.

The pilot scheme has been welcomed by consultants in the region who point out that early diagnosis of any cancer will almost always lead to better treatment outcomes.

Mr David McArthur, a consultant surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, said: “People with supposed ‘tummy troubles’ can sometimes be reluctant to visit their GP for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are just embarrassed about their symptom and other times they are worried they might be ‘wasting’ their doctor’s time.

“I hope this campaign will help convince them that ignoring the problem or waiting for it to pass is just not the correct option. If they have been suffering for more than three weeks then they need to be getting themselves checked out properly.”

The campaign will mainly target men and women aged 50 and over, and will run from 9 February until 31 March.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) explained that the Midlands had been selected for a number of reasons including cancer incidence and mortality, the mix of rural and urban areas and ethnic diversity.

A spokesperson for Public Health England said: “As a pilot, this activity is part of our test, learn and refine approach to Be Clear on Cancer campaigns. The campaign aims to test the messaging with our audience, and if it is successful we hope to test again, using television, next year to fully test the impact on the NHS before we consider rolling it out nationally.”

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