The bowel cancer awareness campaign 'Be Clear on Cancer': sustained increased pressure on resources and over-accessed by higher social grades with no increase in cancer detected.
AIM: To evaluate the impact of the national 'Be Clear on Cancer' bowel cancer reminder campaign on service and diagnosis at a single UK institution. Secondly, to evaluate the socio-economic background of patients referred before and after the reminder campaign compared with the regional demographic. METHOD: Suspected cancer 2-week wait patients in the 3 months precampaign, postcampaign and after the reminder campaign were included. Demographics, investigations and diagnosis were recorded. The postcode was used to allocate a National Readership Survey social grade. RESULTS: Three hundred and eighty-three referrals were received in the 3 months precampaign, 550 postcampaign and 470 postreminder campaign. There were significant increases in the monthly referral rates following the campaign (P <0.001 in both the post- and postreminder periods). Significantly more patients from social grades AB and C1C2 than expected from regional demographics were referred precampaign and after the reminder campaign (P < 0.001 in each case). There were no significant differences between the proportions of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the three study periods (P = 0.710). CONCLUSION: The 'Be Clear on Cancer' bowel cancer campaign has had a significant sustained impact on resources. It has failed to increase referrals among lower socio-economic grades, leading to an increase in 'worried well' referrals and no change in numbers, or the stage, of colorectal cancers diagnosed.