A quarter of patients surveyed in the study of 300 cancer patients aged between 13 and 24 had to visit their doctor at least four times before they were referred for further investigations. 12% of those initially misdiagnosed were told they were attention seeking and 15% were diagnosed with an infection or virus.

Other common misdiagnoses included stress or depression, sports injury, eating disorder, indigestion, vertigo and swine flu.

The most common signs and symptoms of cancer in young people are unexplained and persistent pain, lumps, bumps or swelling, extreme fatigue, significant weight loss, and changes in a mole. More than a third of the cancer patients surveyed believed learning about cancer at school would have helped them identify their symptoms sooner. The majority also want to see symptoms of cancer included in the national curriculum.

Teenage Cancer Awareness Week

The latest findings were released as the Teenage Cancer Trust launches its first Teenage Cancer Awareness Week, starting on the 30th April, where experts will teach young people, teachers, parents and health professionals about spotting the early signs of cancer in young people.

Chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, Simon Davies said: “Young people need GPs to take a 'three strikes' approach.

“If a young person presents with the same symptoms three times, GPs should automatically refer them for further investigation.

“The two week referral for suspected cancer is a major breakthrough but young people won't benefit until GPs think cancer quicker.”

Leanne Couzens, Clinical Negligence compensation specialist at Thompsons Solicitors commented: “People are more likely to survive cancer if it's found at an early stage - treatment is often simpler and more likely to be effective. Cancer is relatively rare in young people and we therefore see delays in diagnosing the condition time after time. Doctors need to identify the signs and act quicker to ensure the young have the best possible chance of survival.”