Challenge

Too many people were dying from bowel cancer in Outer North East London because they were diagnosed too late.
We needed to increase the number of older people seeing the GP when they had possible symptoms.

Insight

Low symptom awareness, fatalism and embarrassment were the biggest obstacles to people seeing the GP.
Vocalising sensitive health issues was proving to be a problem for this audience.

Solution

We co-created a ‘plain-speaking’ advertising campaign with local people: ‘Bowel Cancer: Know the Signs’.
An ‘Ambassador Army’ including nurses and pharmacists signposted people with possible symptoms to see the GP.
A high-impact touring ‘Big Bowel’ inflatable exhibition engaged the public’s curiosity and attention.
A ‘symptom checker card’ was mailed to targeted 50-59 year olds to prompt discussions with their GP, helping people overcome the first hurdle of initiating an ‘embarrassing’ discussion.
We also engaged the target audience through a ‘Good odds if you catch it early’ partnership with Coral bookmakers.

Impact

Over half of local GPs and pharmacists saw an increase in people presenting with possible bowel cancer symptoms during the campaign.
The number of GPs referring people for further bowel cancer tests increased 600% during the campaign period.