One in seven people in the UK cannot name a single symptom of cancer, according to a survey by the charity Cancer Research UK.
The results of the poll of almost 4,000 people, published today, revealed that 19% of men and 10% of women said they did not know any symptoms that could be a sign of cancer.
According to the survey, the lack of awareness was more marked for people from ethnic minority backgrounds, with 28% unable to recall a single cancer symptom compared with 13% of white participants.
Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said it’s important that people are able to recognise cancer symptoms so that they can report any concerns to their GP at an early stage.
‘When cancers are detected earlier, treatment is usually more effective and often milder. We’re not expecting people to be able to recall every symptom, but being generally aware of changes that could be a sign of cancer could make a crucial difference for people who do develop the disease,’ she said.
A lump was mentioned as a sign of cancer by over half the people surveyed, and a quarter said they would recognise a skin problem as a potential sign of the disease.
Additionally, 22% of women and 16% of men identified weight loss as a possible sign of cancer, and one in five identified bowel or urinary problems.
Cancer Research UK said as many as 5,000 lives a year could be saved in the UK if cancers were diagnosed earlier. The charity is working with the Department of Health and the NHS to improve cancer awareness through the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative.