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

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Abstract

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.

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