Wednesday 16 January 2019

Controversial cancer campaign sees 100pc rise in calls to helpline

The society’s Grainne O’Rourke
The society’s Grainne O’Rourke

The Irish Cancer Society's controversial "I want to get cancer" awareness campaign has produced a 100pc increase in calls to its helpline.

The charity said the advertising campaign, which featured a number of people saying "I want to get cancer", has kick-started a nationwide conversation about the disease.

The tagline of the campaign was a play on words designed to refer the need to understand or "get" cancer, or to stamp it out.

Former RTE broadcaster Michael Murphy had criticised the campaign for being "too clever".

"There wasn't a correct emphasis or tone used, which would imply the various meanings of the phrase 'I want to get cancer'," he said.

However, the charity said that it has had a hugely positive response to the campaign.

"Since posting the 40-second advert on the society's Facebook page, it has been viewed more than 600,000 times," a representative said.

"The high viewership has had a direct and immediate impact on the number of people availing of our services.

"Our Cancer Nurseline saw a 100pc increase in enquiries from members of the public compared to the daily average."

The society's head of communications, Grainne O'Rourke, added that the campaign is having the desired effect due to a high level of public engagement.

"We know our campaign has been provocative," she said.


"But, thanks to it, conversations about cancer are taking place in homes across the country."

"People are picking up the phone or going online because they want to 'get cancer' by getting informed.

"We're particularly pleased that our Cancer Nurseline nurses are speaking to more and more people as a result of this campaign.

"We know that one in four cancers can be prevented. If, as a result of 'I want to get cancer', even one more person 'gets cancer' by attending their cancer screening appointment, or making a lifestyle change that reduced their risk of contracting the disease, then it would have been all worth it."

Most enquiries to the helpline were in relation to screening for cancer, lifestyle factors to reduce cancer risk, and cancer prevention. In addition, there was a marked increase in traffic to the society's website - www.cancer.ie.

"There was a 280pc increase in visits to our 'Reduce Your Risk' page, which provides important information on what people can do to lessen their chances of experiencing cancer," the society said.

"Our cancer statistics page also experienced a 127pc increase in visits."

More than 150 people a day are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland - or one person every three minutes.

The Irish Cancer Society said it wants everyone to "get" cancer by understanding the disease and fighting it head-on.

For more information on the campaign, visit getcancer.ie.

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