Charities deny cancer confusion

Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie Cancer Care are preparing to launch a lung cancer awareness month eight weeks after two other major charities ran a similar campaign.

Britain's biggest charity and Marie Curie will be staging UK lung cancer awareness month in January. It follows the global lung cancer awareness month that was supported by Macmillan Cancer Relief and the Roy Castle Lung Foundation in November.

The charities maintain that running the two events will not cause public confusion. But Jennifer Dickson, patient network manager at the Roy Castle Lung Foundation, isn't clear why there is a need for a separate campaign.

"Although any awareness about the dangers of lung cancer is undoubtedly a positive thing, I don't know why this new campaign wasn't run in conjunction with the 52 other charities that took part in global lung cancer awareness month," said Dickson.

Susan Osbourne, director of communications at Cancer Research UK, said the charity had inherited a tradition of running a UK lung cancer awareness month in the New Year from the Cancer Research Campaign, and denied having two campaigns would be a distraction.

"As both drives are very different in focus, I don't think it will create public confusion," said Osbourne.

The Macmillan and Roy Castle awareness month, which featured an extensive education campaign with the message that early diagnosis saves lives, was a great success. In addition to generating significant national and regional press coverage, it resulted in a 100 per cent increase in calls to the charities' helplines. It was the first time the two organisations have worked together but a Macmillan spokesperson said a similar initiative is "extremely likely" in 2003.

For their research-based UK campaign, Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie will work with anti-smoking groups ASH and Quit. The latest findings from Cancer Research UK on smoking will be released throughout the month and both it and Marie Curie will lobby for education drives.

Chris Dainty, communications director at Marie Curie, said a joint initiative involving all four charities was a possibility. "From my point of view nothing is off the agenda. If after reviewing both our campaigns, we see there is a repetition of message then maybe we'll see if it would make more sense to think about pooling resources."

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