Cancer Awareness Research

Back to case studies listing

Public Knowledge has conducted 16 cancer awareness projects nationally comprising data collection from over 23,000 respondents using the generic and site specific awareness measure.

According to the Office for National Statistics, one in three people in the UK develop cancer across the course of their lives and around one in four people who develop cancer will die as a result. Statistics have shown that the UK experiences lower levels of cancer survival that other Western Countries; an issue which needs to be tackled.

At the end of 2007, the Department of Health launched the Cancer Reform Strategy which outlined actions to improve UK wide cancer services within the NHS. A key component of this work highlighted the importance of raising awareness of cancer within the general population, particularly as one of the main factors associated with a delay in seeking help for cancer is a failure to recognise early cancer symptoms.

To aid this, the generic Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) was developed and extensively validated to assess members of the public’s awareness of the symptoms of cancer and the length of time respondents would wait before contacting a doctor to discuss these symptoms, in addition to awareness of the causes, types and incidence of cancer and awareness of the NHS cancer screening programmes.

Subsequently, site specific cancer awareness measures have been developed to assess awareness of bowel, lung, breast, ovarian and cervical cancer specifically and Public Knowledge are amongst the first in the country to collect data using these site specific measures, specifically the bowel and lung measures on behalf of NHS Hartlepool.

We believe that this research is of paramount importance in helping the NHS to improve levels of cancer awareness, ultimately raising regional levels of cancer survival in the long term. Having now conducted 16 projects using the CAM, comprising data collection from over 23,000 respondents, Public Knowledge are experts in this field and we are keen to continue the good work. Some specifics on several of the cancer awareness projects we have undertaken are given below and the quality of the reports produced for our local clients can be found here:

North London Cancer Network
NHS Tees
NHS North of Tyne
Arden Cancer Network

A paper detailing cancer awareness in front line staff members using the data collected on behalf of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Network was also published in the British Journal of Cancer in July 2011.

If you would like further information please contact Dr Judith Welford.

County Durham and Darlington PCT

Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Network

NHS Hartlepool


“We commissioned Public Knowledge to carry out our cancer awareness survey across County Durham and Darlington. They achieved this relatively large face to face survey across a large geographical area within a very tight time scale. I was very impressed by their professionalism and standard of the reports they produced. We are intending to use them again in the future to re-administer our survey. An excellent service.”

Nick Springham, Consultant in Public Health, NHS County Durham

“Public Knowledge were commissioned to undertake a re-run of our cancer awareness measure following a baseline they had undertaken with us in 2009. Through the street surveys we have been able to compare results between now and the basline, providing not only a really good snapshot of what’s currently happening in County Durham and Darlington – but also what’s changed. It has been a pleasure to work with Nicky and her team at Public Knowledge. Despite a tight timescale covering a large geographical area, their professionalism and experience with the cancer awareness measure meant that they delivered an excellent report. Nicky was happy to adapt to our needs at short notice and was always on-hand to give updates or answer questions. I would recommend Public Knowledge to others.”

Tom Gorman, Public Health Registrar, NHS County Durham

“Public Knowledge were commissioned to carry out our cancer awareness survey with front line health and social care staff. They managed to achieve a useful number of responses within a very tight time scale and despite some significant contact issues arising. They were at all times flexible, professional and easy to contact and willing to change plans at short notice.”

Kate Simpson, Service Improvement Facilitator, Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Network

“NHS Tees commissioned Public Knowledge to carry out the Cancer Awareness Measure’s across Tees. From start to finish, Public Knowledge have been a pleasure to work with. They are always extremely professional and pleasant at all times. All work carried out and submitted has been to the highest possible standard, which is testament to the consistent hard work of the Public Knowledge team. In an ever changing environment, Public Knowledge responds to the needs of the client, exceptionally well. We hope to work with them again in the future.”

Laura McGuinness, Project Manager, NHS Tees