Advertisements on Facebook and other popular social media platforms can encourage people to get a cancer screening, which would help patients spot the disease early enough to get timely treatment, scientists say. According to researchers, even with the recommendation of a primary care physician, people tend to procrastinate or forget to schedule an appointment for cancer screening. “The idea was to start a text messaging campaign for cancer prevention,” said Andrea Dwyer, of University of Colorado. Advertising including radio slots, Facebook promotions and even locally-posted flyers encouraged people in the community to text a given number to opt into information and reminders about cancer screening. Radio and flyers were largely unsuccessful in driving enrollment. However, Facebook advertising resulted in 22,600 Facebook users exposed to ads. “Facebook was a good mechanism. Engagement was high with Facebook ads, and those who viewed ads clicked through to the sign-up page, an indication of intent to enroll,” said Dwyer. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe group sees social media, and specifically Facebook, as a way to reach people living in areas where information about cancer prevention might otherwise be lacking. Dwyer said that in a future iteration of the project, the group may explore opt-out rather than opt-in strategies, potentially including enrollment through consent at primary care locations or bundling the delivery of information via text. Technically, the answer to whether Facebook advertising can prevent cancer remains unanswered – it is impossible to tell how many patients who otherwise would have developed cancer were caught early due to the group’s text-based information program.