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Young People's Cancer Awareness Campaign

Most of the time it's nothing BUT Sometimes It's Cancer

  • £10,679

    pledged of £19,500

    • 13


    • 0


This project received pledges on Sun 03 Jul 2016

CATS (Cancer Awareness in Teenagers and young people Society) is all about promoting awareness and early diagnosis of cancers in young people.

We are raising £19,500 to fund a research project which will prove that our awareness campaign increases knowledge of the common signs of cancers that affect young people.

We are dedicated to empowering students studying at University across the whole of the UK to be aware of their bodies and to seek advice from their GP if they notice any changes.

Meet the CATS team!

Project Lead – Mr James Adams

James is a medical student based in Manchester. After being diagnosed with a brain tumour at 18 he set up the CATS campaign in his first year of university, in order to make sure every student knows the signs to look out for. Next year he wants to evaluate the work that CATS has done so far to show the impact it could have if it was rolled out across the UK. As a medical student, James will need further financial support to undertake this important piece of research - that's where you come in.

Martin is a senior clinical lecturer focussing in young peoples' cancers. His interests are in sarcomas (soft tissue and bone cancers) and brain cancers. He will be supervising James' research.

Kate has 16 years of experience of supporting research at The University of Manchester. She previously led the cancer awareness campaign, ‘ Sometimes It’s Cancer ’  for young people studying in Manchester.

What will we use your hard earned money for?

If we manage to raise our minimum target of £1,000 we will be able to register the MRes evaluation project which James is going to undertake, and meet a proportion of the fee costs.

If we reach our full target, we can cover the full fees and enable James to dedicate 100% of his time to this research, and to the CATS campaign for 12 months.

The research will involve in-depth studies with student participants to measure the extent of their awareness of the signs of cancer, before and after engaging with CATS activities. James will post weekly updates about progress of the research study and CATS events to keep our supporters up to date.

Breakdown of costs:
  • Fees: £7,500
  • Stipend for James to carry out MRes study: £12,000
  • Venue hire and AV equipment for evaluation sessions: Free of charge from the University of Manchester
  • Participant fees & subsistence: £3,500 (already contributed by Teenage Cancer Trust)

If we raise more than our target, all additional funds will be reinvested in the CATS society and will be used to buy bespoke CATS merchandise to highlight  common signs that could indicate cancer in a young person.


CATS is a public health campaign with an aim to ensure that every student  at The University of Manchester knows the common signs and symptoms of cancer in teenagers and young adults (TYAs) . Cancer is the most common disease-related cause of death in TYAs. In the UK, TYAs with cancer have more advanced disease at diagnosis and a worse survival rate than TYAs from neighbouring European countries. Very few public health messages target this age group and CATS’ aim is to fill the gap and ultimately to reduce diagnostic delay and improve survival.

The CATS campaign is led by a core team of 14 students from a variety of courses at the University. There were also more than 400 volunteers who signed up to help with our activities in the 2015/2016 academic year. We aim to reach students in innovative and engaging ways, using events such as pub quizzes and acoustic nights. On top of this we also run bi-weekly stalls in the Students' Union where student volunteers use model testicles and breasts to demonstrate to other students how to check for lumps. We also use these stalls to run competitions in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust and give out awareness material.  We've found that partnership is key to reaching our target audience; so over the last year we've worked with 16 different student societies to bring in a total attendance at our events in 2015/2016 of over 700 students.

Our awareness material is printed onto coasters which are left in student homes and bars as opposed to leaflets which are often discarded. We also produce posters which are placed in student areas all around campus. Our latest initiative is to ensure that every new 1st year student arriving at Manchester in the autumn of 2016 will receive a bespoke bus pass holder that details the 5 common signs of cancer:

We utilise social media to post several times a week, giving reminders to check for lumps and highlighting symptoms that may require a visit to the GP. Almost 3000 people currently receive our weekly emails and follow our social media accounts on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .

CATS is endorsed and supported by Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) who have also contributed £3,500 to this research project. We partner with the advertising agency McCann Manchester who produce all our work pro bono . In 2016 we won a Gold award from the Pharmaceutical Marketing Society for excellence in communication.

Why is CATS important?

This project is relevant to all students and all young people. Although cancer in young people is rare, many TYA cancers are diagnosed in university students. Almost 1 in 2 people will develop cancer in their lifetime, and the CATS campaign includes public health messages of relevance to all cancers.

In our current position we are already reaching sufficient students that those who have become aware of CATS could have a reduced time to diagnosis due to a quicker presentation to their GP. This could potentially allow for a better prognosis for their disease. Already we know of one student who went to her GP following exposure to CATS material and went on to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As the campaign grows it is likely that more stories like this will arise.

The most common types of cancer in TYAs:

As a result of the CATS campaign and this funding, University of Manchester students will benefit from a relevant public health campaign that targets their age group.

CATS is now already running in 3 universities. Evaluating our impact at Manchester will allow us to take a huge leap towards establishing a 'CATS' in all major UK universities.

Where to find us

If you want to know more, check out and 'like' our CATS Manchester Facebook page ; follow us on Twitter or on Instagram .

How you can help us

You don't need to sponsor our project to help us. Please share our project on your social media accounts, and tell your family and friends about what we're doing and the impact our project could have for raising awareness of cancer in young people.

Of course, in order to continue on our mission to establish CATS in universities across the UK, we need the proof of our impact which will come from this research study. So please, if you can, sponsor our project!