The Cancer Awareness Measures (CAM)


New findings from The Cancer Awareness Measure on anticipated barriers to visiting the GP

The Cancer Awareness Measure

Interested in using the Cancer Awareness Measure?

Download the CAM

What is the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM)?

The Cancer Awareness Measure is a validated set of questions designed to reliably assess awareness of cancer among the general population. The measure includes warning signs, help-seeking, risk factors, cancer and age, most common cancers and NHS screening programmes.

The CAM can be used at national, regional and local levels to monitor/track awareness over time, compare between groups, identify information needs, and monitor the impact of awareness-raising interventions. Ultimately, assessing awareness in this way will help accelerate cancer prevention and early diagnosis.

The CAM was developed to address the lack of a validated measure for awareness of cancer and inconsistencies regarding the best way to measure this.

  • Warning signs (10 items)
  • Seeking help (1 item)
  • Barriers to seeking help (11 items)
    • Emotional – embarrassed, scared, worried about what the doctor might find, confidence discussing symptom (4 items)
    • Practical – too busy, too many worries, transport (3 items)
    • Service – wasting time, difficulty making appointment, difficulty talking to doctor (3 items)
    • Other – verbatim (1 item)
  • Risk factors (12 items)
  • Cancer and age (1 item)
  • Most common cancers (6 items)
  • NHS screening programmes (6 items)
    • Knowledge (3 items)
    • Age of first invitation (3 items)

The first CAM was run in Great Britain in 2008. Further waves of the CAM were carried out in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

In 2014 the CAM was modified; specifically items were added, amended and deleted. This version of the survey has not yet been validated. If you would like to request a copy of the updated CAM, please email, or you can use the validated 2008 version.

You can download the full CAM or any of the cancer specific versions.

All toolkits include instruction on how to administer the CAM as well as measures.

Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM)

Bowel Cancer CAM

Breast Cancer CAM

Cervical Cancer CAM

Lung Cancer CAM

Ovarian Cancer CAM

The CAM was first was developed by Cancer Research UK, University College London, King’s College London and University of Oxford in 2007-8.

The site specific measures for Breast, Colorectal/Bowel, Cervical, Lung and Ovarian cancer were developed with the support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action, The Eve Appeal, Ovacome, Target Ovarian Cancer and the Department of Health.

Studies support the validity of the CAMs as measures of cancer awareness in the general population:

Development of a measurement tool to assess public awareness of cancer (British Journal of Cancer 2009)

Validation of a measurement tool to assess awareness of breast cancer (European Journal of Cancer, 2010)

Ovarian and cervical cancer awareness: development of two validated measurement tools (Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, 2012)

New findings from the Cancer Awareness Measure show that on average people anticipate three barriers to seeing the GP. Barriers are more likely to be related to the service than to GP patient relations with the most commonly perceived barriers being finding it difficult to get an appointment with a particular doctor (42 percent), or at a convenient time (42 percent) and disliking having to talk to GP receptionists about symptoms (40 percent).

The analyses also shed light on other barriers that people anticipate could put them off seeing their GP. While it's not clear how significant these barriers are for actual help-seeking behaviour, greater understanding of what people perceive to be important can help inform ways to tackle barriers and support people seeking help for symptoms at the earliest opportunity. The full report will be published shortly and will be available to download here.

Press release available to download here

Contact Us

Email us for more information or any questions about the CAM

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