HeadSmart “a model” for awareness campaigns in low-survival cancers

Thursday 30 November 2017

The multi-award winning HeadSmart campaign has gained international recognition after being recommended to the Australian Government as a “model to inform the public about low survival rate cancers and their symptoms"

The HeadSmart recommendation landed in a report published by the Australian Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates, chaired by Senator Catryna Bilyk, a brain tumour survivor. The committee made a series of recommendations to the Australian Government on Tuesday this week, including asking for low survival rate cancers, including brain tumours, to be considered as a “National Health Priority Area".

The Brain Tumour Charity's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr David Jenkinson gave evidence to the Australian Senate Committee in August and spoke of how HeadSmart was aimed at educating both the public and healthcare professionals about the signs and symptoms of childhood brain tumours, and further noted how the campaign has contributed to a reduction in diagnosis times for children and young people with a brain tumour in the UK.

The committee specifically recommended: “that the Australian government develops and implements an education and awareness campaign based on the UK HeadSmart model to inform the public about low survival rate cancers and their symptoms, with a view to reducing the time taken to detect and diagnose these cancers".

We believe this significant endorsement of HeadSmart in Australia can add additional weight to our arguments in the UK that HeadSmart should be included in future rounds of cancer awareness campaigns facilitated by UK governments, including Be Clear on Cancer in England, and Detect Cancer Early in Scotland.

Following this announcement, we'll be holding the UK Government to account on a recommendation made in the Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015-2020, which called on Public Health England and NHS England to evaluate data from HeadSmart to determine what factors influence late diagnosis of brain tumours in children.

Upon the release of the committee's report, Senator Bilyk commented: “I'm really proud to have brought down this report because I think it's going to make a significant difference to people with low survival rate cancers.

“When low survival rate cancers are elevated to that priority status, they'll get looked at more often by more people — so they would get more awareness and more interest so we can make inroads into research."

In response to this news, Hayley Epps, Communications and Marketing Manager at The Brain Tumour Charity added: “brain tumours kill more children and people under 40 in the UK than any other form of cancer.

“Launched in 2011, HeadSmart has two aims: to save lives, and reduce long-term disability by bringing down diagnosis times in children.

“This recommendation is a fantastic endorsement of the campaign, and pays tribute to the work of our community in championing HeadSmart across the UK".

We'll be keeping a close eye on the implementation of the committee's recommendations and ensuring that UK policymakers are reminded that HeadSmart and future awareness campaigns can have in a significant impact in diagnosing brain tumours earlier and more accurately.

You can read the full report here