Many patients notice the first signs of illness several months or even years before they consult their doctor. Often they suspect that it may be cancer, particularly thanks to information they may have gathered from newspaper articles or television programmes. Some of them will react adequately by seeking medical advice. Others, up to 60 per cent of patients, will put off making an appointment (Henderson 1966). Often they have had experience of cancer among their family or friends, and life goes by as if the illness would not become a reality for them until formally diagnosed by a specialist. The most generally accepted explanation for this delay is that it allows them to build up defence and adaptation mechanisms (Gordon et al. 1980; Freidenbergs et al. 1981-2).