A new survey by Cancer Research UK has revealed that, worryingly, one in seven people are unable to name a single symptom of cancer, highlighting a significant lack of awareness of the disease that needs to be addressed to help save lives.

The survey, which involved almost 4,000 people, found that 19% of men and 10% of women did not know any symptoms that could point to the disease, and it was also revealed that the lack of awareness was most pronounced in ethnic communities, with 28% unable to name any signs compared to 13% of white respondents.

The findings are of great concern as early diagnosis of cancer is crucial to treatment outcomes. As Sara Hiom, director of health information at the charity explained: “When cancers are detected earlier, treatment is usually more effective and often milder,” and she stressed that “being generally aware of changes that could be a sign of cancer could make a crucial difference for people who do develop the disease”.

According to the Cancer Research UK, as many as 5,000 deaths could be prevented through earlier diagnosis, and so it is essential that the public are better educated to recognise the potential signs and symptoms of the disease.

The charity is already being working to boost public awareness alongside the Department of Health and the National Health Service under an initiative called NAEDI - the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative – which was first announced in the Cancer Reform Strategy with the task of co-ordinating and providing support to activities that promote the earlier diagnosis of cancer.