The public ignorance of the importance of early cancer treatment could be costing many lives in the UK.
According to a new report from Cancer Research UK, more than three-quarters of the British population do not realise that pain, coughing or bowel and bladder problems can all be telltale signs of cancer, while only a quarter recognised weight loss and mole changes as possible symptoms of the disease.
Perhaps more disconcerting is the fact that even when people do identify that they have the potential signs of cancer, 40 per cent state they may delay a trip to the GP because they are worried about the result.
Experts believe that it is this attitude which is leading to thousands of avoidable deaths.
"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," said the charity's chief clinician professor Peter Johnson.