Cancer Council concerned after important messages blocked by Gmail

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Cancer Council South West regional education officer Shenae Norris is worried regional Western Australians are mssing out on important messages being blocked by Gmail.
Camera IconCancer Council South West regional education officer Shenae Norris is worried regional Western Australians are mssing out on important messages being blocked by Gmail. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

Cancer Council WA has raised concerns that many regional West Australians may be missing out on important health messages because Gmail has blocked them for being too personal.

The council’s Find Cancer Early campaign was deliberately designed to use plain language such as “pee” and “poo” to explain the symptoms of several prevalent cancers.

Facebook overturned a decision to block the ads, but Gmail continues to stand its ground because of the references to “the early detection of cancer” and “intimate bodily health issues”.

Cancer Council WA regional education officer Shenae Norris said regional West Australians were 20-30 per cent more likely to die within five years of a cancer diagnosis than those living in Perth.

“Digital platforms like Gmail are one of the few ways we can effectively reach people in rural and remote parts of WA, so not being able to use it is a big issue,” Ms Norris said.

“We know these education messages will save lives, so Gmail’s refusal to let us get them out there is disappointing and somewhat baffling considering the same ads were allowed to run last year.

“A poor understanding of cancer symptoms and the fact country people often delay going to the doctor is causing too many avoidable deaths.”

Similar campaigns run by the council reached more than 60,000 people in a three month period last year.

“If our TV stations and radio stations don’t have an issue with the ads, and Facebook’s reversed its decision to ban them, we can’t understand why Gmail won’t budge,” Ms Norris said.

“The fact is, the earlier cancer is found, the better your treatment outcomes are, so it’s vital you know what to look out for and see your doctor when something’s not right.

“If you’re over 40 and experience any of the following for more than four weeks - problems peeing; runny poo; unexplained weight loss; any unusual pain, lump or swelling; a persistent cough ; breathlessness; or a new or changed skin spot– get it checked out.”

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