Communications: Campaign of the week - Institute strips bare men's cancers

The Everyman Cancer Awareness Month is now in its eighth year, and aims to get its message out to ever more men by linking up with new high-profile retail partners such as Topman and shoe designer Oliver Sweeney.

It is also building on the success of established partnerships, such as its link-up with Cosmopolitan magazine, which has published its popular naked male centrefolds for the fourth year running. This year, Ian Wright and Jack Osbourne are among the celebrities who have stripped off to encourage men to check themselves regularly.

Victoria Rae, communications manager for the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "It is often wives or girlfriends who find a lump first or persuade their partners to go to the doctor, so it's important to get the message out to women too."

The institute has teamed up with DLKW, which is working with the charity on a pro bono basis. There are two distinct parts to the message, given that testicular and prostate cancer generally affect different age groups.

Prostate cancer affects as many as 30,000 older men each year, killing 10,000 - more than one an hour.

Rae said: "When we first ran the campaign, there was a low level of understanding about testicular and prostate cancer. Although there is more awareness now, the message is more important than ever because prostate cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the most common form of cancer among men.

"Although the awareness month is a crucial time for us, it's a year-round campaign."

Testicular cancer mostly affects men aged between 18 and 45, and there are 2,000 cases each year.

If it is caught early, it's curable in most cases, so the campaign is aimed at breaking down the barriers that stop men from going to see a doctor, such as embarrassment. Rae explained: "We have traditionally used humour to do this and find it to be an effective tool - there's a 99 per cent cure rate, so we don't want to scare men."

The campaign is also aimed at raising funds for research: last year, it raised £750,000 for the Everyman centre, Europe's only dedicated male cancer research centre. The charity is teaming up with Topman, which will be selling wristbands for a recommended price of £1, with the full amount going to the campaign. There is also a special underwear collection, with 10 per cent of sales going to the charity.

In addition, Sweeney has been commissioned to design a special range of shoes, with £40 from the sale of each pair going directly to the campaign.

- See Peter Cardy, page 24.

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