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International Poll Shows Many Fear Alzheimer's as Much as Cancer
Date:7/20/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new international survey reveals that many people view Alzheimer's disease as a major health threat, fearing its onset nearly as much as they do cancer.

Conducted in France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United States, the poll also found the vast majority of those surveyed would not hesitate to visit a doctor if they or a loved one showed the tell-tale symptoms of the disease. However, many did not realize that Alzheimer's is a deadly disease for which there is no truly effective test or treatment.

"What we have here are pretty surprising findings," said study co-author Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "First, we found that there is an extraordinarily high level of willingness for people who have symptoms of confusion or memory loss to go in for some kind of an assessment. And previous surveys had not always showed such a high level of interest in that," he said.

"And then we also found that many believe there is an effective medical or pharmaceutical treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer's. And also that a very substantial proportion of people are convinced that there are reliable medical tests available to give them a sense of where they're at," he added.

"No one had really asked about those two points before," Blendon explained. "So this indication of the optimism people seem to have about what can be done in terms of testing and slowing progression are really new, and very different from what most in the medical community would have expected to find."

Blendon is slated to join colleague Jean Georges, executive director of Alzheimer Europe, on Wednesday to present the results of the survey (funded in part by the pharmaceutical company Bayer) at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, in Paris.

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