NEARLY 40pc of people who fear they might have cancer delay visiting a doctor because they are worried about what they will find.
Meanwhile, other sufferers are failing to recognise the symptoms of the disease at an early stage, leading to thousands of avoidable deaths, new research shows.
A report by a cancer charity found that more than 75pc of people asked to list the possible warning signs of cancer failed to mention pain, coughing or problems with bowels or bladder.
More than two-thirds of around 2,000 people surveyed also failed to list bleeding, while only one in four mentioned weight loss or mole changes.
Researches also found that a quarter of people who fear they may have the disease delay making a GP appointment because they are worried about wasting their doctor's time.
Statistics suggest thousands of deaths could be avoided if patients visited their doctors and an early diagnosis was made.
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "If patients are diagnosed when the cancer is still in its early stages before it has had a chance to spread to other parts of the body it is more likely that treatment will be successful.
"That is why it is so important for people to be aware of things that might be early signs of cancer.
"Of course we are all frightened of hearing that we may have cancer.
"But people need to know that catching the disease early gives them much better odds of surviving it.
"The best precaution anyone can take is to be on the lookout for any changes in their bodies that seem unusual for them and to get them checked by a doctor," he said.