Perceptions of Lung Cancer 2013

Our 2013 Study, Public Unaware of Symptoms of Lung Cancer

More than one in five people are unable to name any symptoms of the world’s biggest cancer killer, according to a survey published by the GLCC.

The research, which was carried out by Ipsos MORI, investigated awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer and smoking prevalence in 21 countries.

Researchers found that across all the countries, 22% of people surveyed admitted they could not name any symptoms of the disease, which claims the lives of 1.37 million people globally every year[1].

The research, which surveyed over 17,000 people, also found that former smokers are slightly more likely to be aware of symptoms than current smokers or people who have never smoked.[2]

Dr Matthew Peters, chair of The Global Lung Cancer Coalition, which is made up of 31 non-government patient organisation across the globe, said: “Patients are often diagnosed with lung cancer at a very late stage when treatment is no longer an option.

“If we can get patients diagnosed earlier, we can treat them and save lives. That is why being aware of the symptoms is so important.

“It is shocking to think that almost a quarter of people can not name any symptoms of the world’s biggest cancer killer.

“We would call on governments and health organisations around the world to look at these findings and realise how important it is they take steps to raise awareness of lung cancer in their respective countries.”

The report found lack of awareness of lung cancer symptoms varied between different countries.

Egyptian (48%), Argentinian (42%), Mexican (35%) and Portuguese (33%) respondents are most likely to say they couldn’t name any symptoms. At the other end of the spectrum, fewer than one in ten French (seven per cent) and Irish (nine per cent) people are unable to name any symptoms.

Overall, breathlessness was the most commonly identified symptom (41% of respondents mentioned it spontaneously on average across the countries) but a similar proportion identified a cough or coughing (39% on average across the countries). Others mentioned more specific types of coughing such as coughing blood or a cough that gets worse.

In Australia and Great Britain, current smokers are less aware of the symptoms of lung cancer than former smokers and people who have never smoked. In three countries (France, Ireland and Portugal), current smokers appear to have greater awareness of potential symptoms.

Technical note

Between 500 and 1204 respondents were interviewed in each country, either face-to-face or by telephone (omnibus survey), in between June and August 2013.[3] Data have been weighted to the known population profile of each country.

The survey was conducted across Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the USA.

Please note that overall figures are calculated by taking the average across the 21 countries.

[1] This is based on 2008 data – the latest available.

[2] On average across all countries, 22% of former smokers don’t know any symptoms, compared with 27% of current smokers and 24% of people who have never smoked regularly.

[3] Please note the starting age varied slightly between countries. The lowest age for each country is as follows: Germany: 14 years; Australia, Ireland, Mexico and Norway: 15 years; Sweden: 17 years; Egypt and Japan: 20 years; all other countries: 18 years.

The full text of the 2013 report can be downloaded here

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