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Respiratory Symptom Awareness


We are pleased to confirm the details of how the forthcoming Be Clear on Cancer (respiratory symptoms) campaign will be rolled out. The campaign starts with print advertising and paid search this week, and resources such as posters, leaflets etc are being distributed to GP surgeries, pharmacies and other local settings.TV advertising and social media advertising will begin w/c 22 May; we are currently confirming the final schedule. This will be followed by radio advertising  in w/c 29 May.

We will be offering bespoke artwork for the campaign, so if you would like to localise any campaign materials please use our Be Clear On Cancer Portal.

The key campaign messages will be:

  • If you’ve had a cough for 3 weeks or more, tell your doctor
  • If you get out of breath doing things you used to be able to do, tell your doctor

With the following secondary messaging:

  • Getting out of breath could be a sign of heart or lung disease, including cancer. Finding it early makes it more treatable, so don’t ignore it, tell your doctor
  • A persistent cough could be a sign of lung disease, including cancer. Finding it early makes it more treatable, so don’t ignore it, tell your doctor.
  • Chances are it’s nothing serious but if it is cancer finding it early makes it more treatable
  • Don’t put getting out of breath down to something else e.g. getting older, being overweight or smoking

Background on the Respiratory Symptoms campaign

The breathlessness campaign was first piloted locally in Rochdale & Oldham in Feb to March 2013, with press, radio, paid search and posters and leaflets distributed to GP’s surgeries and pharmacies. The local campaign was followed with a regional campaign in the East of England in February 2015, which was supported by TV, radio, digital, press and face to face events.
The Be Clear on Cancer lung campaign encourages people who have experienced a cough for three weeks or more to visit their GP as it could be a sign of lung cancer. It was first run as a regional pilot in autumn 2011, and has since been run nationally three times in May 2012, July 2013 and March 2014.
In 2016, the breathlessness creative was used alongside the Be Clear On Cancer ‘cough’ lung cancer creative to form one campaign focused on highlighting the potential seriousness of respiratory symptoms, and encouraging people with these symptoms to take action. The media strategy for the campaign was also different, with the campaign running over a longer period (14 weeks rather than the 6-8 weeks campaigns have previously run for). This approach proved successful, and evaluation has provided some useful insights for developing our approach for 2017.

Pharmacy orderline
Resources available free from the PHE pharmacy orderline: A free pharmacy toolkit to support the campaign, including a pharmacy briefing sheet, two A4 posters, one counter card, two shelf wobblers, one leaflet dispenser, 50 leaflets and access to video briefings for staff are available to pre-order now using the code: BCOCRESPPHARMKIT on the PHE pharmacy order line call 0300 123 1019. The order line is open Monday to Friday, from 8am to 6pm.

Orders can also be made through this website

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