Almost one in three (32 per cent) people in the UK say that, if they had an unusual or persistent change to their body, thinking it would go away in its own time would stop them from visiting their GP according to a new survey from Cancer Research UK.*

What’s more, almost one in four (24 per cent) would be put off visiting their GP by the hassle of getting an appointment and one in five (20 per cent) because of the worry of what the doctor might find. Not wanting to waste the doctor’s time (19 per cent), not having the time to visit the GP (14 per cent) and embarrassment about the changes to their body (14 per cent) were other reasons that might prevent people from making an appointment.

The online survey of more than 2,000 adults was carried out by YouGov for Cancer Research UK’s ‘Spot Cancer Early’ campaign which aims to encourage people to see their GP sooner rather than later if they notice any unusual or persistent changes to their body. The campaign also aims to increase awareness of the huge improvements in cancer survival rates since the 1970s; today, in the UK, you are twice as likely to survive cancer than 40 years ago.

Of those surveyed, when asked to pick from a list of life events 61 per cent would act soonest to cancel a lost or stolen bank card. Only one in ten Brits (12 per cent) would act most promptly if they noticed an unusual or persistent change in their body.*

Dr Claire Knight, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “We want people to know that you are more likely to survive cancer if it’s found at an early stage. It’s important to get to know your body so you’re familiar with what’s normal for you.

“If you notice any unusual or persistent changes, it’s really important to take the time to visit your doctor to talk about it. Cancer is most common in the over 50s, but people of all ages who notice a change that’s hung around for a few weeks should get it checked out by a doctor. More than likely it won’t be anything to worry about and it’ll be a load off your mind. But if it is something serious, spotting it early can make a real difference because treatment is often simpler and more likely to be effective. A quick visit to your doctor could save your life.”

Ann, 77 from Merseyside, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003. She said: “I was diagnosed after my GP referred me for an X-ray following an appointment. I had an operation and now, more than eight years on, I am living a very full and active life doing all the things I enjoy. Catching cancer early is so important. I think if anyone has any signs or symptoms they should see their doctor right away.”

To find out more about why you are more likely to survive cancer if it’s found at an early stage, visit:


For further information please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8315 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.


*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total weighted sample size was 2077 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 16th August 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Please imagine that you have an unusual or persistent change to your body. Which, if any, of the following would stop you from visiting your GP?
All UK adults
Not  wanting to waste the doctors time 19%
Thinking that it will go away in its own time 32%
Being worried about what the doctor might find 20%
Not having time to  visit the GP 14%
The hassle of getting an appointment with the GP 24%
Being embarrassed about the change to my body 14%
None of these 29%
Don’t know 2%

Please imagine each of the following happened to you. Which ONE of the following do you think you would act on soonest? All UK adults
A broken washing machine 3%
A lost/ stolen bank card 61%
An unusual or persistent change to my body 12%
Weeds in the garden 1%
An unwell pet 17%
A broken mobile phone 2%
A leaky tap 1%
None of these 1%
Don’t know 2%

• Cancer Research UK is Tesco’s Charity of the Year 2012 and together we hope to raise £10million to fund 32 early diagnosis and detection research projects across the UK. This will help more people survive cancer and keep more families together.

• To find out more about the partnership please visit