British adults want blood tests which screen for cancer, study finds

·2-min read

A new survey has found that three in four British adults want blood tests for cancer screening amid a rise in concerns around the disease.

The report released by University College London (UCL) states that 40% of respondents said their lives had been changed because people important to them were harmed by cancer.

Researchers at UCL also estimated that approximately 10,000 people will die of cancer earlier than they would have if not for the pandemic because it caused increased pressure and lack of resources in the NHS.

The survey, undertaken in May 2021 of 2,096 UK adults, found that 75% said when single blood tests for multiple forms of cancer become available, they will want to be regularly tested.

The 25% that were unsure about accepting cancer testing were also vaccine hesitant, and tended to be relatively young and ethnic minorities.

Report co-author Professor David Taylor, UCL School of Pharmacy said: “Since early 2020 most people have been primarily focused on the threat of Covid-19, but as the pandemic becomes better controlled by vaccines, medicines and other public health measures, cancer is re-emerging as the UK public’s top health priority.

“The immediate challenge is to reduce NHS waiting lists, yet to retain British public confidence up to the next general election, policy makers will also need to restore progress in cancer research, prevention and medical and social care improvement, despite the economic impacts of Brexit and Covid-19.”

UCL (Philip Toscano/PA)

When asked about the NHS, respondents were generally positive as over one third said if they or members of their family develop cancer, the NHS care available would be world-class, and 40% agreed NHS care would be as good as anywhere else.

Only 5% of the total participants felt their NHS cancer treatment would be poor.

The survey was done by the research consultancy Yonder on behalf of UCL academics.

Co-author and cancer clinician Professor Mark Emberton said: “I strongly support the efforts being made to re-awaken public awareness of the value of early cancer diagnosis and to encourage people to report unusual symptoms to their doctors, even if they seem minor.

“But there is only so much this can achieve without more investment in better diagnostic services and optimal access to effective new treatments for all stages of cancer.

“Our research should remind politicians that the UK public wants the NHS to be a global leader in cancer care.”