Sceptics’ Cancer Awareness Month. Starts April 1st 2011

I made this up. But responses have been positive so I'm running with it.... along with a supply of cliches too, it seems....

Press Release

For immediate release:
 
Sceptics’ Cancer Awareness Month - The SCAM you do want to be part of.
 
Chris Hiley, cancer awareness sceptic, announces the countdown to the first ever Sceptics’ Cancer Awareness Month (SCAM) in April 2011 has begun.
 
Sceptics’ Cancer Awareness Month is a diary date for health editors, health writers, social commentators, cancer policy specialists, journalists and bloggers to mark by writing or commissioning something sceptical on cancer awareness any time in April 2011.
 
SCAM looks behind the norms of cancer awareness, beyond the youth obsessed PR and the easy fit agendas of cancer charities.  For instance, cancer is a disease of ageing but you'd never guess from the usual cancer coverage. Sceptics ask what harm does this do if not to you, to your parents?
 
SCAM health journalism puts complexity back into coverage, along with older people at risk of cancer and people with cancers which can’t be easily labelled ‘sexy’ such as lung or bowel cancer.
 
Sceptics ask 'what use sentimentality now?' on behalf of people with cancer aged over 60. They wonder if 'early detection’ is all it's cracked up to be; what people think 'given the all clear' really means; why there isn’t an All Cancer Awareness Month with a manageable awareness agenda for those who don’t yet have cancer; about the risks as well as the benefits of cancer screening; and about the difficult cancers, the ones that crop up out of the blue and aren’t linked to behaviour change.
 
SCAM covers the cancers with no early warning symptoms and the odd ones such as CUP (cancer of unknown primary) or GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumour).   
 
Chris Hiley says
 
"Tumour specific Cancer Awareness Months market charities and their branding. The 'months' work well for people who have a specific cancer, to help them make sense of their experience through cancer activism. It’s an illusion that Awareness Months are there to inform people who haven’t got cancer."
 
"For cancer awareness to work the audience need general all-cancer messages, not tumour specific ones. It's the audience who should be segmented into groups, not the cancers. Gender and life stage would cut it - young, middle aged, older, men, women. Simple."
 
"I’d like people to act on relevant cancer awareness messages but why make it so damned difficult for them, by spewing out far too much intentionally uncoordinated detail every special month, and repeat it every year? And don't use emotion to communicate personal risk. It's not honest." 
 
"The public have no way of knowing which, if any, cancer may get them, so it’s not reasonable to expect them to get to grips with all the details of all the cancers they come across just in case. That’s easily 80 symptoms for the top ten most common cancers in men, and the top ten in women."
 
[Ends]
 

Notes for Editors

 
Chris Hiley is a middle-aged occasionally grumpy ex- cancer charity sector policy wonk and cancer awareness sceptic, contactable through www.chrishiley.com. More on SCAM here and here.
 
SCAM participants can contribute any way they like, on any issue they like. SCAM covers cancer awareness free of sentimentality, huge lists of symptoms to learn and behaviours to change and avoids the heart tugging agendas of tumour specific cancer charities. 
 
Scepticism is applied where cancer awareness and campaigning targets the general public who do not have cancer. As cancer research, campaigning about cancer services and support and information help people with cancer these are not issues for SCAM.  
 
Cancer Research UK’s Key Signs and Symptoms are all you need to know.
 
Signs of cancer for men and women 
  1. An unusual lump or swelling anywhere on your body
  2. A change in the size, shape or colour of a mole
  3. A sore that won’t heal after several weeks
  4. A mouth or tongue ulcer that lasts longer than three weeks
  5. A cough or croaky voice that lasts longer than three weeks
  6. Persistent difficulty swallowing or indigestion
  7. Problems passing urine
  8. Blood in your urine
  9. Blood in your bowel motions
  10. A change to more frequent bowel motions that lasts longer than six weeks
  11. Unexplained weight loss or heavy night sweats
  12. An unexplained pain or ache that lasts longer than four weeks 
Signs of cancer for women 
  1. An unusual breast change
  2. Bleeding from the vagina after the menopause or between periods
 
ALSO: Cut down or stop  smoking. Cut down or stop tobacco use. Cut down on alcohol. Eat healthily. Aim to keep your weight within the healthy range. Take regular exercise and keep active. Protect yourself from excessive sun exposure.
 
Chris Hiley would like to know if anyone is planning SCAM activity, so she can keep tabs, not because she has any control or funding. It may start on 1 April and be called SCAM but SCAM is not a joke. Yet.