Abdominal cancer symptoms: Evaluation of the impact of a regional public awareness campaign

Nicola Torrance*, Chloe J. Bright, Helen L. Hill, Jennie Fergusson, Catriona Kennedy, Vivian Mak, Carolynn Gildea, Andy Nordin, Lucy Elliss-Brookes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: A regional ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ (BCoC) campaign developed by Public Health England aimed to promote public awareness of key abdominal cancer symptoms in people aged 50 years and over. Methods: Data were analysed for metrics at different stages in the patient care pathway including public awareness, GP attendance and referrals, to cancer diagnosis. Results: There was significantly higher recognition of the BCoC abdominal campaign in the campaign region compared to the control area (Post Campaign/Control, n = 401/406; 35% vs. 24%, p < 0.05). The campaign significantly improved knowledge of ‘bloating’ as a symptom (p = 0.03) compared to pre-campaign levels. GP attendances for abdominal symptoms increased significantly by 5.8% (p = 0. 03), although the actual increase per practice was small (average 16.8 visits per week in 2016 to 17.7 in 2017). Urgent GP referrals for suspected abdominal cancer increased by 7.6%, compared to a non-significant change (0.05%) in the control area. For specific abdominal cancers, the number diagnosed were similar to or higher than the median in the campaign area but not in the control area in people aged 50 and over: colorectal (additional n = 61 cancers), pancreatic (additional n = 102) and stomach cancers (additional n = 17). Conclusions: This campaign had a modest impact on public awareness of abdominal cancer symptoms, GP attendances and cancers diagnosed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13500
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number6
Early online date11 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. European Journal of Cancer Care published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • abdominal symptoms
  • cancer awareness
  • health promotion
  • public health


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