Public unable to recognise symptoms of cancer

There is considerable confusion among members of the public about what to look for when it comes to possible symptoms of cancer.

More than three-quarters of the 2,090 people asked to list possible warning signs and symptoms of cancer failed to mention pain, coughing, or problems with bowels or the bladder according to Delay kills, a study funded by Tesco and published by Cancer Research UK. More than two-thirds failed to list bleeding, and barely a quarter mentioned weight loss or mole changes as being potential signs of cancer.

Even when people recognised signs that they thought might be serious, nearly 40% said that they might delay getting the symptoms checked out because they were worried what the doctor might find. In addition, more than a quarter said that they might delay because they feared wasting the doctor’s time.

The statistics have led to Tesco and Cancer Research UK creating a partnership to help scientists find ways to close the gap between survival rates in the UK and the best in Europe so that thousands more will survive cancer in the future.

Tesco has said that it will raise £10 million to fund 32 early-diagnosis research projects across the UK as well as launch a new in-store customer awareness campaign.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “If patients are diagnosed when the cancer is still in its early stages before it has had a chance to spread to other parts of the body, it is more likely that treatment will be successful. That is why it is so important for people to be aware of things that might be early signs of cancer.”

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