Social media focus: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2016

Oct 6, 2016
Social media focus: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2016

September was Prostate Cancer Awareness Month (PCAM), an initiative launched in the U.S. by the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The month is used to raise awareness and disseminate important information about prostate cancer – a disease that, although almost entirely curable when found in its earliest stages, leads to around 26,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.1 In this article, we examine some of the key topics of discussion, most used hashtags, influential users and examples of good Twitter usage across the month.

Key topics of discussion (note: larger words in the word cloud represent higher volumes of use)

PCAM word cloud

Aside from the obvious topics discussed from the word cloud above – prostate, cancer and men being prominent terms throughout the month – upon further inspection, there are some topics that stand out.

The theme of improving diagnosis is prominent. Words such as “detection,” “checked,” “diagnosed” and “screening” are all terms used throughout PCAM. There are also some call-to-action words such as “learn,” “get” and “know” representing a drive to improve understanding of the disease.

Volume of discussion

Twitter activity

Although the volumes of tweets using the official #pcam hashtag was consistently high throughout the month of September, there are some notable peaks and troughs in activity.

Use of the hashtag started a few days before the month began, exploding in activity as PCAM got underway on September 1. The troughs coincide with weekends when, presumably, organizations’ Twitter activity would wane.

Most used hashtags for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2016

The 14 most used hashtags for this year’s PCAM are presented below.

Top hashtags PCAM

Besides the expected popularity of the “#pcam” and “#prostatecancer” hashtags, the most used hashtags were dominated by awareness campaigns and events. The Prostate Cancer Foundation’s #StepUp hashtag was the third most commonly used hashtag throughout September, closely followed by the Blue Cure Foundation’s #lightitblue campaign. The presence of all of these awareness campaigns indicates effective social media strategies and an all-around awareness of the organizations’ messages on the part of the public.

Most influential users

The Prostate Cancer Foundation, creators of PCAM, were the most engaging users for the first two weeks of September. The Foundation achieved the most retweets and favorites in two weeks, closely followed by the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute and Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Most active users-week 1Most engaging users-week 1

During weeks three and four of September, however, the Blue Cure Foundation and its founder Gabe Canales headed the most engaging and most active lists, indicating effective, interesting content as well as engagement with their respective audiences. The Foundation’s own Blue Cure Night Run also entered the top most active accounts toward the end of September.

Most active users-week 2Most engaging users-week 2

Other notable accounts include director of research at the American Urological Association Carolyn Best and senior vice president of development and operations at ZERO Cancer Kathy Costigan, both of whom entered the most engaging and most active user lists at some point during the month.

Most successful examples of social media in September

The most engaged with tweets in the first half of September came from the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Both organizations made good use of visuals and statistics to create an easily shareable Twitter post.

The most engaged with tweet during PCAM came from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute promoting its participation in the Blue Cure Foundation’s #lightitblue campaign. Again, the use of visuals makes the tweet particularly easy to share. The Blue Cure Foundation made good use of the promotion, retweeting the post and in turn achieving the second most engaged with post of the month.

What can we take from this?

The tweets that attracted the most attention and engagement were those with easily digestible information and striking visuals. The most active and engaged users of the month were those that joined in the conversation and interacted with their audience. The Blue Cure Foundation, for example, used both its organization Twitter account and an employee account to ensure its presence was consistent for much of September. Liking and retweeting posts from others supporting the #lightitblue campaign also helped the Foundation to reinforce its message.


  1. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for prostate cancer. Available from: (accessed September 2016).
Social media focus: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2016

Astellas Patient Advocacy is a function within Corporate Affairs at Astellas that focuses on creating, building and maintaining third-party relationships. We serve as a conduit between Astellas and external stakeholders to help improve patient outcomes, improve access issues and address patients’ unmet needs head on.

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