A new survey by German pharma company Merck has found that only one-in-five (20%) women diagnosed with cancer believe they receive enough support to manage their family responsibilities or fit work around their condition.

Further, 45% were aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer prior to diagnosis, and nearly half (47%) had never attended a screening program.

The report, called ‘Supporting Women With Cancer’, surveyed 4,585 women across 23 countries and found that there is still significant “room for improvement to promote understanding of all cancers and their risk factors, and to increase awareness and access to cancer screening programs and support services for women.”

Additionally, a quarter (25%) of women perceived themselves to be more stigmatised than men by their disease.

In response to the findings, Belén Garijo, CEO of healthcare and member of the executive board of Merck said, “In addition to making the most effective medicines accessible, we aim to accompany and support women with cancer throughout their difficult journey. This study gives us first-hand information about the countless aspects of a woman's life that are impacted after a cancer diagnosis that need to be taken into account to improve their health and quality of life.”

The company says that the survey further showed the need for greater education regarding cancer in women, as many women underestimated the risk factors associated with cancers that are not widely considered ‘women’s cancers’, such as lung and colorectal cancer.

Specifically older women, and those in lower- and upper-middle income countries were also found to be less aware overall of the signs and symptoms of cancer prior to their diagnosis, compared to those in high-income countries.