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Be Clear on Cancer: Awareness Raising Campaign

Be Clear on Cancer: Awareness Raising Campaign

Here's a little something for you to ponder over the winter break.

In England the NHS piloted a cancer awareness-raising campaign, 'Be Clear on Cancer', which uses advertising time to highlight some of the warning signs of cancer. Ovarian Cancer symptoms were included in this. The pilot ran in the North-West of England but was seen in other areas depending on which channels people are accessing.

I for one was delighted to see the advert because we have very poor 1-year survival rates in Wales and no awareness-raising campaign. I certainly learnt about the symptoms of other cancers and feel this knowledge, and an interest in cancer could be important in saving lives because I wouldn't be frightened to mention it if I noticed someone with symptoms that should be checked out.

The evaluation of the regional pilot in the N-W isn't expected for another 4 - 6 months but Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer, told the recent APPG (All Party Political Group) for Ovarian Cancer that the plan to roll out the campaign across England will not take place.

Those of us observing or participating in the APPG were very disappointed. Mr Duffy reported that the campaign had led to an increase in the number of women knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and an increase in referrals, but those referrals had generally been in the under-50s age group, which was not the target group, and had not led to an increase in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Sean Duffy recommended instead that efforts are renewed to educate GPs.

There were a number of challenges to this. Patients told Sean Duffy that a 3-4 month pilot was not long enough for information to cascade to the people who would benefit from it. It was pointless educating GPs if women weren't aware of the symptoms so they didn't see their doctor in time. One observer felt that GPs in the pilot area were prevented from accessing diagnostic tests and another wondered, given the area was the poorest performing in the UK, whether it would have been better to launch the pilot in an area that was more successful but clearly could do with improvement. Part of the poor performance of the N-W may be linked to pre-existing infrastructure or resourcing issues.

I'm interested to know whether you saw the television advert explaining the symptoms of ovarian cancer and where you saw it.

If you saw it did you feel it was helpful in raising awareness of ovarian cancer?

Did you think it is a good idea to get people talking about cancer through a television advertising campaign?

What do you think the benefits of the campaign would have been? Are there issues that have been missed by the NHS?

It would be great to get some ideas and feedback on this from the people who are most affected by Ovarian Cancer.

By the way, if you are worried about someone, you can check out the early signs of various cancers at the following website:

xxx Annie

17 Replies

Hi Annie, I didn't see it.


Hi Annie, I hope you had a good xmas. Unfortunately most of my family and I have had may viruses so bit disappointing but still managed xmas dinner and enjoyed seeing my little lily playing with her new toys and mainly with the wrapping!

Anyway thanks for this post. I haven't seen the TV ad and as you know I live in the nw. I do think its a good idea to introduce the subject of cancer and symptoms on TV but the timing is v important I think. I know it costs more at peak times but they may teach the demographic e most need to reach. Personal stories often capture peoples attention but without seeing the ad I can't comment on the content.

I also think local parties and radio stations are important in getting the message across.

Have a healthy and happy new year and good luck with whatever treatment you may have.

Love Francesca x


Hi Francesca, I'm really sorry you and your family have been poorly over Christmas. I hope you've had a rest and are feeling better now. Having grandchildren round is a delight isn't it. My six year old twin grand-daughters were sooooo excited. It gets better and better.

You make a good point about having a combination of resources put into cancer awareness as not everyone watches television.

I should be starting treatment some time in the New Year but happy to put it off as long as I can!

love Annie xx


It is so uplifting seeing them so excited and certainly bring around lily https me feel positive much of the time but as soon as I feel ill and can't get out and about seeing friends and at tai chi and other classes I can drop into more vulnerable feelings quite easily. I'm having a scan on 8th Jan and seeing doctor on 20th so then we'll know what's happening. Like you I want to put off treatment as long as I can. I have had a great time since I finished last chemo in may and even managed Caribbean cruise end of November which was amazing.

Good to talk to you

Francesca x

1 like

I saw it whilst switching channels. I don't think it's much good. The ad shown in New York, which was a simple graphic alerting women to the symptoms, was so much better, and cheaper at 15 seconds rather than 30..

Given limited NHS resources, I don't think TV advertising is as effective as good PR, or even direct mail to the target group. Most TV channels would run a story on ovarian cancer awareness, if given good material.

The leaflet was even worse. It said nothing about ovarian cancer on the cover. It was only distributed via GP surgeries, not even pharmacy. And inside, it didn't list the risk factors accurately. If I had known the risk factors, I would have asked for a CA125 test, but the leaflet wouldn't have helped me.

Yes, an awareness campaign is a good idea, but the NHS and their ad agency and advisors can do so much better than this.



Thanks for those thoughts. They're really interesting. Do you have a YouTube link to the US ad. Thinking back on it I agree the ad was quite long. I haven't seen the leaflet. It sounds as though the NHS were ill-advised. Interestingly enough there was someone in the Observers' Group who said they'd worked in PR and advertising for 20 years and they were critical of the ad and the strategy too. xx Annie


I've just seen this. Sorry, I don't have a link and I couldn't find it on google. I agree, the campaign was ill advised. Vx


The vid can be found here. I was quite vocal at the APPG that they clearly had not tested the messages adequately (since he said the 'wrong' women had responded) and weren't approaching this vital challenge in any kind of professional marketing way. Sean Duffy responded only by telling me how wonderful the Be Clear On Cancer team is and that they know what they are doing - better than I do with my 20 years in marketing...

Enjoy, and tell us what you think -


Sue xxx


Thanks Sue.

I've just watched the video again and I think you are spot-on that the message wasn't tested adequately if the 'wrong' women responded to it. I was rather shocked, by the way, that Sean Duffy considered any women who responded were 'wrong'. It's important all women know the signs of ovarian cancer as it can strike at any age as we well know here on this forum.

Perhaps less about parsley and bananas would have given it better focus.

I hope others have a look at the video and post their comments. It would be so good to get feedback on this video. Why women think it works, or why it doesn't work. I'll post the link again.

Looking forward to more comments and ideas. xx



My diagnosis was fortunately very good, the ascites was the giveaway but, inspite of massive surgery and chemo mine returned within two months, my consultant says that the poor length of remission was due to the aggressiveness of the tumour and not due to the site of the tumour, in my case, the preritoneum. Hope this is of some help. Gio


Hi Gio, thanks for posting. I wonder whether you had a look at the television advert for Be Clear on Cancer - Ovarian Cancer. Do you think that would have helped you and prompted you to visit your GP before you did. If it does it means that ovarian cancer will be detected earlier when it's likely to be curable.

It's my hunch that many women don't have any symptoms at all until the cancer is advanced. That was certainly my case.

I'm really sorry to hear your tumours returned. Comparing notes can be a bit of a minefield can't it. My tumours were the most aggressive type and when I asked why I had a long remission after first line treatment I was told the aggressive tumours weren't aggressive in my body. It does seem there is a bit game of chance going on with our disease. Just as well we're all here to cheer one another along.

I hope your next treatment works better for you. Bring on customised treatments based on our DNA! xxx love Annie


Hopefully I am going to be taking part in the Genome Project which is being rolled out. My consultant is spearheading the Project down here at Treliske, Truro's hospital. They are also hoping to get a Chemo Van which can bring tretments to use that live in further flung places, for example I live in Penzance and have a commute of round trip 60 miles.



Hi Gio

It's great you should be able to take part in a Genome Project in Truro. Our daughter and family live in Hayle. It's such a beautiful part of the country but it seems there are so many challenges with the NHS in such a remote place. It would be great if they could fund a chemotherapy unit to travel to you as it's not good that all patients have to travel so far for treatment.

I'd love to hear how you get on with your trial. Happy New Year!!! xx Annie


Thanks for that, there seems to be plenty in the press at the moment about where cancer comes from, interesting that 66% of us can be assured that it is not anything we could have avoided. I am trying to get clear in my mind the link between stem cells and mutations, it seems some cancers, including pancreatic cancers are being approached with the stem cell/mutation link in my but other cancers do not have this causal link. I go to the Consultant in the third week, the first week is taken up with 3 lots of chemo, the second with a repeat of Gem and the third, the consultant so Tuesdays (generally) is my 'day'! I use my consultant's time to write down anything that's gone in the press so that it makes my cancer seem more like a project than an illness!

Interesting your link with West Cornwall. When I had the major hysterectomy and de-bulking in March, the state of the invasiveness of the cancer in my 'tummy' gave the Gynae guy such a shock, he said only the Royal Marsden or Treliske (which seems to have a reputation for Oncology Treatment) would have given me the chance of going ahead with the surgery!! So I have to trust them!

Do you come down this way, it would be nice to connect, I have no idea through these networking sites how you can send personal details, maybe you or somebody who reads this does.

Anyhow, must go, the weather here is truly disgusting and I('m going to make some bread.

Cheers, Gio


Hi Annie

Bit of a late response here but I have read everyone's comments and have now watched the video.

If it had been rolled out across the country I fell sure it may have alerted some women earlier to the possibility of having ovarian cancer. I am amazed that anyone would say after a short trial that the 'wrong' women responded- at least those women are now aware of the symptoms.

Glad to hear that you have had a good Xmass: my three granddaughters spent it at home but came here on Sunday! The festivities had to be in shifts this year.


Anne xx


Hi Annie. Today is really the first day that I had time to look at the TV ad for OC and while not really too informative - it is better that nothing. However, I didn't want to post a comment on the NHS site as I am not under that system.

I know that the NCCP here in Ireland is also trying to get a GP awareness list done on OC. As you know the symptoms are so varied with each of us that a huge amount of information should be given to GP's, so that they all are aware of each symptom.

Best wishes for 2015m and I hope all is well with you.



Hi Maureen Happy New Year!

It's good to get your feedback on the ad. I thought it was pretty underwhelming but as you say something is better than nothing. Also good that your Government is getting an awareness-raising leaflet out to GPs. Target Ovarian Cancer have a free online training module which takes 35 minutes. I'm sure they would be happy for doctors in S Ireland to have a look at if if they haven't done so before. It's crazy not to share all the resources we can.

All is well here. Just relaxing after quite a lot of celebrating - Christmas, New Year, and my Birthday. Phew! Now I have loads of memories and lovely photos to go over and enjoy it all over again.

love Annie xx


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