New data released on Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day shows that symptom awareness is as low as 1% in Wales.
- Close to a third of people in Wales have a friend or loved one who has delayed seeking medical advice when experiencing symptoms of a less survivable cancer. Of those, 66% were told by medical professionals that this delay had an impact on their treatment options.
The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce warns that late diagnosis can drastically affect survival chances.
The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT) has released new data on Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day to highlight the critical importance of symptom awareness for early diagnosis of these cancers.
The taskforce represents six less survivable cancers, lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach, with an average five-year survival rate of just 16%. Together, these less survivable cancers make up nearly half of all common cancer deaths in the UK.
A UK-wide survey carried out by the LSCT has found that awareness of the symptoms of these deadliest cancers is dangerously low across the country. Only 1% of respondents in Wales were able to correctly identify all symptoms of oesophogeal cancer from a list presented to them. Symptom awareness for liver and stomach cancers fared slightly better at 2% and 4% respectively while only 9% of respondents knew all the symptoms of lung cancer. 11% of people could spot the signs of pancreatic cancer while knowledge of brain tumour symptoms was higher but still only 18%.
Even more concerningly, when asked whether they had a friend or loved one who had delayed seeking medical advice when experiencing symptoms which were later shown to be caused by a less survivable cancer, a massive 35% of respondents in Wales said yes. Sadly, of these cases, 66% were told by medical professionals that this delay had an impact on their treatment options.
In 2022, the LSCT reported that many patients with a less survivable cancer will only be diagnosed after an emergency admission to hospital or an emergency GP referral after symptoms have become severe. These late diagnoses account, in part, for the catastrophic prognoses for thousands of people each year as patients with cancers that are diagnosed in an emergency suffer significantly worse outcomes.
Judi Rhys MBE, Chief Executive of Tenovus Cancer Care and Chair of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce Wales subgroup, said: