Widespread confusion about cancer symptoms is leading to delayed diagnosis and irregular self-examinations, according to new research by Bupa UK.
Four in ten Britons have never checked for common cancers.
Nearly half of people are unclear what to check for, as six million delay seeking medical help.
The study found 45 per cent say it is hard to remember the warning signs or physical changes they should look for. As a result, two in five (38 per cent) people have never checked themselves and less than half (48 per cent) look for symptoms of cancer at least once a month.
This confusion is a significant factor in delaying diagnosis. More than six million people said they have delayed seeking medical advice about a symptom as they “didn’t realise what to look for.” For two million people this symptom was later diagnosed as cancerous.
A quarter of employees have even said they would worry about taking time off from work to have a symptom checked.
Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa UK Insurance, said many businesses are looking at how best to support colleagues who have been diagnosed with cancer, but more needs to be done to promote the importance of an early diagnosis.
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, however 42 per cent are confused about what to check for when it comes to common cancers such as skin, bowel or lung.
The findings also show that awareness varies between types of cancer. 45 per cent of all women check for breast cancer at least once a month and a third (34 per cent) of men regularly check for testicular cancer.
However symptoms of bladder and pancreatic cancer are far less known and understood.
Being able to recognise if something is wrong is important to improving survival rates, which is why Bupa has created a simple Cancer Check-CUP guide.
Bupa UK. (2018). Cancer confusion causing diagnosis delays for millions of Brits. Accessible: https://newsroom.bupa.com/cancer-check-cup-research?cmpid=CancerCheckCUP&PPID=28464721. Last Accessed: 20 September 2018.
Perryman, E – Health Insurance Daily. (2018). ‘Cancer confusion’ causes millions of employees to delay seeking medical help. Accessible: https://www.healthinsurancedaily.com/health-insurance/product-area/pmi/article486136.ece. Last Accessed: 30 August 2018.