Over the past few years, we’ve seen more and more celebrities speak publicly about their health conditions, leading us to wonder: how does this impact overall awareness?
To find out more, we’ve looked specifically at two brave celebrities and their battles with bowel cancer: Dame Deborah James and Adele Roberts.
Analysing data from Google, we have discovered how these two celebrities have positively impacted health trends, helping to raise awareness of bowel cancer and, ultimately, save lives.
Google searches for information about bowel cancer increased by 30% when Dame Deborah James started sharing her treatment journey
There are over 665.8K searches a month on Google for information about bowel cancer. This is nearly eight million searches a year.
Following Dame Deborah James’ tragic passing in 2022, there was a significant spike in the number of people looking for information about bowel cancer online.
There was a 31% increase in searches for bowel cancer information online and, currently, there are still almost 40,000 searches for information about Dame Deborah James’ bowel cancer a month. This totals 480,000 a year and demonstrates how much Deborah raised awareness for the condition.
There were also spikes in Google searches relating to bowel cancer around key points in Deborah’s treatment journey.
In May 2022, Dame Deborah James sadly announced she was receiving end of life care. Following that announcement, there was a fourfold increase in the number of searches for bowel cancer information online.
Deborah James sadly passed away on the 28th June 2022. During the month of her death and into July, Google searches for information about bowel cancer increased by five times, with Google searches for information about bowel cancer reaching the highest they’ve been in the past five years during the week she passed away.
After Adele Roberts shared her experiences of bowel cancer on BBC Breakfast on 28th March, searches for information about the cancer spiked by 80% that day
Radio One presenter, Adele Roberts, who has now been given the all clear, was also diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2021. Since she announced her diagnosis, there has been on average 15,000 google searches a month from people searching for information about her condition (searches for “Adele Roberts bowel cancer”).
As with Dame Deborah James, there are also clear spikes in people searching for information about bowel cancer correlating to key stages of Adele’s treatment journey. For example, in October 2021, when she announced her diagnosis, the number of people searching for information about bowel cancer increased by 100%.
In January 2022, when Adele announced she was undergoing chemotherapy, again Google searches for information about bowel cancer increased by 100%.
Google trends data highlighting how searches for bowel cancer information spiked when Adele Roberts shared her experience of bowel cancer on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday 28th March
Google trends data highlighting how searches for bowel cancer information spiked when Dame Deborah James announced she was receiving end of life care (May 2022) and when she passed away (June 2022)
- Adele Roberts announcing bowel cancer diagnosis – orange
- Adele Roberts announcing chemotherapy has started – red
- Dame Deborah James announces she’s receiving end of life care – blue
- Dame Deborah James sadly passes away – yellow
Commenting on the findings, Laura Rudd, our Head of SEO said:
“This data from Google clearly shows when these two strong, influential women shared details of their diagnosis and treatment journey with their followers – and the wider world – this positively influenced online behaviour and drove an increase in people searching for information about these conditions.
“It shows their stories had power and resonance, but also drove such a significant spike in people wanting to find out more. It changed perceptions and behaviours.
“More people searched for information about bowel cancer directly after Deborah and Adele shared updates about their treatment plans, which shows how celebrities sharing information about health conditions can directly impact the awareness of those conditions. It can be incredibly powerful.
“Both Adele Roberts and Dame Deborah James have made a demonstrable impact on the awareness of bowel cancer, and they should be celebrated for their bravery and openness during such challenging personal times. There is no doubt they will have saved lives because of it.”
Commenting on the findings, Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK said:
“We know that when celebrities, like our patron the late Dame Deborah James and BBC Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts, generously share their experience of bowel cancer we see a spike in the number of people visiting bowelcanceruk.org.uk seeking information about the symptoms of the disease.
“Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, with someone dying from the disease every 30 minutes in the UK. But it doesn’t have to be this way as it’s treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early, which is why we’re always delighted when celebrities use their platforms to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms. These conversations really do save lives.”
For more information about bowel cancer and how you can donate, visit bowelcancerukorg.uk