Aim: This national survey sought to establish levels of awareness of cancer risk factors and awareness of what individuals could do to reduce their own risk status.
Method: Cross-sectional interview data comprising a national representative sample of 4,233 individuals aged 15 years or over across Great Britain.
Results: There were high levels of awareness of the role of smoking in the development of cancer, but only modest awareness of alcohol intake, being overweight, physical inactivity and older age. Recognition of the role of viral infection in cancer risk was very poor. Although two-thirds of respondents thought that cancer risk could be modified through lifestyle changes, those most in need of making lifestyle changes were less likely to be aware of what they could do to reduce their cancer risk.
Conclusion: This survey highlights the need to increase awareness of overweight, alcohol, infections and exercise in the development of cancer, particularly amongst younger people and those from more socio-economically deprived backgrounds.