Awareness of cancer symptoms and anticipated help seeking among ethnic minority groups in England

Br J Cancer. 2009 Dec 3;101 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S24-30. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605387.


Objective: Little is known about ethnic differences in awareness of cancer-warning signs or help-seeking behaviour in Britain. As part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI), this study aimed to explore these factors as possible contributors to delay in cancer diagnosis.

Methods: We used quota sampling to recruit 1500 men and women from the six largest minority ethnic groups in England (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, African and Chinese). In face-to-face interviews, participants completed the newly developed cancer awareness measure (CAM), which includes questions about warning signs for cancer, speed of consultation for possible cancer symptoms and barriers to help seeking.

Results: Awareness of warning signs was low across all ethnic groups, especially using the open-ended (recall) question format, with lowest awareness in the African group. Women identified more emotional barriers and men more practical barriers to help seeking, with considerable ethnic variation. Anticipated delay in help seeking was higher in individuals who identified fewer warning signs and more barriers.

Conclusions: The study suggests the need for culturally sensitive, community-based interventions to raise awareness and encourage early presentation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*