Helping to dispel the myths

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Local knowledge is crucial in improving awareness and understanding of lung cancer. We’ve worked with a number of local organisations and patient groups to help to understand more about the culture and diversity of a location in order to be more successful in increasing knowledge and breaking down lung cancer myths.

South Africa dispels lung cancer myths

Leon Spamer, AstraZeneca’s Brand Manager for Oncology, and his team wanted to set the record straight on a number of key issues surrounding lung cancer. Interviews were arranged with twelve community radio stations and one national broadcaster. The aim was to raise awareness of symptoms and treatment options to increase understanding and promote earlier diagnosis. The team also wanted to dispel the myths and tackle the stigmas often associated with the disease (such as the misconception that you can only contract lung cancer if you have smoked).

Leon explained “this wasn’t about promoting AstraZeneca’s products – it was a chance to reach a huge number of people, helping them to understand lung cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. We also wanted to get across the important point that lung cancer can affect anyone.”

Leon and his team are using a new “Toolkit” that we are developing to help our teams around the world stimulate conversations around lung cancer and promote partnerships that can broaden the approach to tackling this deadly disease.

Japan: Media, medical studies and mutation testing

In Japan Noriyuki Nakamura, Iressa Brand Manager, and Tetsuo Fujimoto, Iressa Associate Brand Manager, have concentrated on making connections with the public and lung cancer patients, to do this they started by developing relationships with lung cancer medical groups. “We’ve built relationships with lung cancer medical study groups; which is essential as there are no formal patient groups in Japan. We work with these groups to plan our presence at citizen seminars” explains Nakamura-san. These cancer seminars regularly take place, in both Osaka and Tokyo, Fujitmoto-san explains “around 500 people attend the seminars, expanding this to include more of the general public is one of our main challenges.”

Another goal is to specifically increase understanding of the new targeted therapies that are available to lung cancer patients, as Nakamura-san explains: “Our focus is increasingly on discussing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and EGFR mutation testing. The speakers break down the overview of mutation testing, discussing how the EGFR mutation works, and what happens when a patient tests EGFR mutation positive. It’s about finding the balance: raising awareness of the options available to patients, while not being too technical.”

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