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Concern over cancer signs awareness

The need for greater awareness about cancer symptoms has been highlighted by a study which found that nearly one in seven Britons could not identify a single sign of the disease.

The poll by Cancer Research UK found that nearly 19% of men and 10% of women could not name a cancer symptom.

Of the 3,947 people questioned, 28% from those from ethnic minority backgrounds and 13% of those who described themselves as white admitted they could not recall a sign of the disease.

Symptoms of cancer include unusual lumps, changes to moles, unusual bleeding or changes to bowel motions.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at the charity, said: "It's really important that people can recognise cancer symptoms and feel that they can report concerns to their GP at an early stage.

"We believe as many as 5,000 deaths could be avoided each year in the UK if cancers were diagnosed earlier."

An unusual lump as a sign of cancer was identified by 54% of those questioned, while 25% named a skin problem, 16% mentioned moles and 19% mentioned weight loss. Nearly one in five (19%) respondents said bowel, urinary or toilet problems could be a possible symptom.

Ms Hiom said: "While it's good news that most people correctly named some cancer symptoms, we're concerned by the number of people who drew a complete blank.

"When cancers are detected earlier, treatment is usually more effective and often milder."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Cancer Research UK