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How Prostate Cancer UK got over 550,000 men to check their risk

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By Awards Analyst, writer

December 9, 2022 | 7 min read

Prostate Cancer UK won at The Drum Awards for Content 2022 in the Chair Award and Not-For-Profit or Charity categories for its 30s Risk Checker Challenge. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful campaign...

prostate cancer uk

Prostate Cancer UK wins Chair Award at The Drum Awards for Content

Following the pandemic, NHS England launched initiatives to get people back to their GPs, targeting other forms of cancer. But prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men – is a big problem for public health campaigns. A small, in-house charity team solved this public health communications challenge no one else had cracked – and developed a piece of content so effective NHS England funded a £1.9m first-of-its-kind partnership campaign to deliver it.

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The brief

Prostate Cancer UK set out to restore prostate cancer referrals to pre-pandemic levels and prevent thousands from dying because their cancer was detected too late. The charity set out to reach 95% of UK men 45+ (with additional focus on UK Black men 45+, who have double the risk), encourage over 117,676 men to use the Risk Checker to learn their risk and increase the number of diagnoses of men with prostate cancer who require treatment.

The idea

Most cancers are detected by checking yourself, watching for symptoms, and going for screening. But not prostate cancer. It doesn't typically have symptoms until it's already spread and is the most common cancer with no routine screening program. For Prostate Cancer UK to create a message that is both clinically sound and easy to understand, was a maddening task.

The 30-second Risk Checker is interactive, shareable content that served as a simple call to action for the campaign. It asks for age, ethnicity, and family history to determine a man's risk and provides information personalized by risk level, including relevant information about testing and how to decide. Then whether the user feels informed, and what they've decided.

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The answers gave real-time insight into the impact of the messages including learning for the first time how higher-risk groups such as Black men responded to targeted advertising in a live campaign.

After the first year, 211,000 men had used the Risk Checker, and NHS England took notice. Together they scaled up the campaign to boost prostate cancer referrals, funded by NHSE and delivered by Prostate Cancer UK. It was the largest-ever charity partnership with NHSE and the first nationwide public health campaign delivered in this way.

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The campaign included six weeks of digital, traditional, and out-of-home media, with a geographic focus on reaching Black men and capitalizing on the charity’s history of brand-building with football audiences with ad spots during live sport and out-of-home on football grounds.

The results

Day one of the campaign delivered 263k web visits and 2.9 million reaches on social channels, with engagement from Sajid Javid, Danny Willett, Ray Winstone, Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry.

Over 550k men completed the risk checker during the campaign with more than 8% being Black men over 45. 72% of those who read the information about testing said they'd made a decision (63% wanted a test), and less than 3% said it wasn't helpful.

Urgent referrals for urological cancers reached an all-time high in March 2022, with almost 25,000 people checked in just one month, an increase of more than a fifth compared to the previous month and 30% higher than the same month in 2021.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Content 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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