Confusion about cancer symptoms among workers could be leading to delayed diagnoses and irregular self-examinations, suggests new research by Bupa UK.

In a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, nearly half of respondents (48 percent) reported difficulty in remembering the warning signs or physical changes they should look for.

As a result, as many as two in five UK employees said they have never checked for common cancers such as skin bowel or lung, while less than half (44 percent) look for symptoms of cancer at least once a month.

This confusion is one of the significant factors that could delay diagnosis, the health insurer notes, with more than four million employees saying they have delayed seeking medical advice about a symptom becase they “didn’t realise what to look for”.

For over a million employees, this symptom was later diagnosed as cancerous, Bupa said.

“We know that many of the businesses we partner with 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,” noted Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa UK Insurance.

The group has now launched a Cancer Check-CUP guide designed to help businesses raise employees’ awareness of the symptoms to look out for. It advises people to seek medical advice if experiencing any changes or symptoms that are unexplained or persistent.

“We believe this is key to helping improve outcomes and aiding recovery time,” Dr James said.