On World Cancer Day – more must be done to raise awareness

Each year World Cancer Day aims to prevent millions of deaths by raising awareness about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.

Yet, as we mark the 24th anniversary of World Cancer Day, a staggering one in three people report not knowing any symptoms of lung cancer – the most common cancer in the world.

Today we publish our recent multi-national study, which shows well over one-third of people (37.5%) do not know any symptoms of lung cancer. For young people (aged 18-24) this number is even higher, with 45% of respondents not knowing any symptoms.

These numbers are worrying as diagnosing lung cancer early dramatically increases people’s chances of survival. For example, in the UK those diagnosed at stages one or two are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years or more than those whose cancer is caught at later stages.

The stigma around lung cancer, due to its links with smoking, creates additional challenges for policymakers looking to take action, with the same study finding 43% of people globally agreed they have less sympathy for people with lung cancer than other types of cancer.

Read the study here: http://tinyurl.com/3z34uebb

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Peters, Chair of the GLCC, notes only ‘’concerted political action’’ can bring about effective change to address the twofold problem of lack of awareness and lack of sympathy that is hampering healthcare systems worldwide in their efforts to reduce the burden of lung cancer and improve outcomes for all affected by the disease.”

To this end, the GLCC is calling for policymakers worldwide to work with the health system to:

  • Increase recognition of lung cancer symptoms through targeted public awareness campaigns.
  • Improve public education and understanding of lung cancer and its causes to reduce stigma.
  • Highlight the importance of early diagnosis and treatment in improving survival to encourage more people to seek help early.
  • Implement a national lung cancer screening programme to help people get diagnosed and into treatment as early as possible.

In addition to the symptom of a cough for three weeks or more, other symptoms of lung cancer include:

  1. chest infections that keep coming back
  2. coughing up blood
  3. a long-standing cough that gets worse
  4. an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  5. persistent breathlessness
  6. persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  7. loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss


The study was conducted across the following 29 countries with responses received from at least 1,000 adults per country: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and USA.