New campaign will alert people to early signs of cancer

In collaboration with Adfero

The government has announced a new campaign that will improve people's awareness of the early signs of cancer and the need to seek timely treatment.

Experts are concerned that many people fail to spot early signs and symptoms and hope the campaign - which will be launched in January 2011 - will improve the public's knowledge of breast, bowel and lung cancer.

In all, 59 local campaigns will be launched, with local areas sharing in a dedicated £9 million fund.

For instance, NHS Leeds plans to advertise on key bus routes, while NHS Liverpool which has cancer mortality rates that are 38 per cent higher than the average in England - will use social marketing to try to encourage people with signs and symptoms of cancer to visit their doctor more promptly.

In addition, the Department of Health plans to trial a centrally-led campaign in two pilot regions to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms and encourage people who are concerned to visit their doctor.

Care services minister Paul Burstow said: Our aim is simple - we want to save many more lives and achieve cancer survival rates among the best in the world.

In England we are lagging behind European countries when it comes to the common but big killer cancers, such as breast, bowel and lung. The NHS is spending at European levels but still not delivering European cancer survival rates.

We know that generally the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the outlook. That's why our campaign will help people to be more alert to the early signs and symptoms of cancer and encourage them to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Cancer Research UK's executive director of communications and information Sarah Lyness said: We've made great strides in improving cancer survival with rates doubling over the last 40 years. But we often diagnose cancer late in this country so we welcome any campaign that raises awareness of the signs of key cancers and that encourages people to seek help if they notice unusual changes.

Encouraging people to seek help from their doctor if they suspect cancer is the crucial first step in getting a speedy cancer diagnosis. GPs also need to recognise symptoms and refer for diagnosis appropriately and treatment must follow as quickly as possible. We hope this campaign will encourage people to get that little niggle checked out. It could save their life.