Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 33–37 | Cite as

Public awareness of warning signs for cancer in Britain

  • N. Brunswick
  • J. Wardle
  • M.J. Jarvis
Article

Abstract

Background: The objective of this study was to establish the level of public awareness of warning signs for cancer in Britain.

Methods: An interview-based survey of a representative sample of the UK population was undertaken; 3693 men and women completed the interview (69% response rate). The data from this survey included demographic characteristics as well as recognition of the ‘seven warning signs for cancer’.

Findings: Results revealed that recognition of signs ranged from 81% (‘thickening or lump’; n = 2994) to 37% (‘indigestion/difficulty swallowing’; n = 1356). On average participants identified 4.2 of the signs, with only 1.6% (n = 58) identifying all seven. There were strong associations with demographic characteristics, with better recognition being associated with being female, married, higher socioeconomic status (SES), higher income, a home-owner and having more years of education.

Interpretation: From these results we conclude that fewer than one in ten of the UK population can recognize seven warning signs for cancer, but the mean number recognized (4.2 signs) suggests that there is a reasonable level of public awareness. It must be cause for concern that most markers of lower SES are independently associated with poorer recognition, suggesting that public education needs to do more to narrow the inequalities in health knowledge.

cancer knowledge social inequalities warning signs 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Bostick RM, Sprafka JM, Virnig BA, Potter JD (1993) Knowledge, attitudes and personal practices regarding prevention and early detection of cancer. Prev Med 22: 65-85.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ali NS, Khalil HZ (1996) Cancer prevention and early detection among Egyptians. Cancer Nurs 19: 104-111.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nichols BS, Misra R, Alexy B (1996) Cancer detection: how effective is public education? Cancer Nurs 19: 98-103.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brown ML, Potosky AL, Thompson GB, Kessler LG (1990) The knowledge and use of screening tests for colorectal and prostate cancer: data from the 1987 National Health Interview Survey. Prev Med 19: 562-574.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Masterson-Allen S, Mor V, Lance MP (1987) Physician screening practices and colorectal cancer screening prevalence among the Rhode Island population. R I Med J 70: 217-221.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    World Health Organisation (1996) Cervical cancer control in developing countries: memorandum from a WHO meeting. Bull World Health Org 74: 345-351.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Brunswick
    • 1
  • J. Wardle
    • 1
  • M.J. Jarvis
    • 1
  1. 1.Imperial Cancer Research Fund Health Behaviour Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations