Detect Cancer Earlier marketing campaign: evaluation report 2023/2024

An overview of the Detect Cancer Earlier campaign which ran from 18 September to 22 October 2023, including independent evaluation results.

1. Background

The Detect Cancer Earlier (DCE) Programme - launched in 2012 - has been the Scottish Government’s flagship early detection programme, predominantly driving cancer staging improvements for Scotland’s most common cancers (bowel, breast and lung). Melanoma and Head & Neck were subsequently added to the programme following an extensive options appraisal exercise, with clinical consultation. The programme also aims to reduce the inequality gap for those living in areas of higher deprivation. The latest Cancer Strategy for Scotland 2023 - 2033 was published on 15 June 2023.

Public communications have played a fundamental role within the DCE programme and in supporting cancer screening objectives over the years. Marketing campaigns have been used to increase awareness of specific symptoms, to motivate and prompt action such as screening attendance and to change attitudes with regards to tackling the fear of cancer to increase the prevalence of earlier diagnosis.

In September and October 2023, the overarching DCE campaign called ‘Be the Early Bird’ ran for a second time, targeting those living in areas of higher deprivation aged 40+. This campaign is designed to specifically tackle the fear of cancer as a barrier to individuals acting on symptoms.

The campaign aimed to build belief in the benefits of getting checked early, thereby reducing fear of cancer as a barrier to contacting the GP practice about possible symptoms. The campaign also signposted people to the ‘Get Checked Early’ website where they could see case studies of people living well after treatment and also use the online symptom checker.



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