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Fatalism Keeps Many From Colon Cancer Screening

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A fatalistic attitude contributes to low colorectal cancer screening rates among poorer people, even when the screening and cancer care are free, according to U.K. researchers.

The researchers analyzed data from a series of surveys of 529 adults, aged 60 to 69, and the study findings are slated for publication in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

"In England, the screenings are free and the subsequent health treatments are free as well, yet people of lower socioeconomic status still do not get screened. We wanted to find out what else was going on," Anne Miles, a lecturer in psychology at the University of London, said in a journal news release.

She and her colleagues found that poorer people who felt that colorectal cancer screenings wouldn't help, or that they were going to die of cancer anyway, often ignored screening recommendations.

The surveys completed by the participants collected information about their economic status, self-rated health and rate of cancer fatalism. Researchers compared those findings to the rate of a colorectal cancer screening method called fecal occult blood testing.

Men and women with higher socioeconomic status, better self-rated health and lower cancer fatalism were 56 percent more likely to have a fecal occult blood test.

It might be possible to reduce cancer fatalism if it is properly identified in patients, Miles suggested in the news release.

"There is clearly something else going on here besides costs. We need to understand people's attitudes toward screening," she said. "If they think it won't help, they won't do it, even if it's free."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer screening.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, news release, Sept. 27, 2011

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