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

to London-based Alzheimer's Disease International, roughly 36 million people are thought to suffer from dementia worldwide, a figure that is projected to spike to 115 million by 2050.

William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association, noted that the United States will see its pool of Alzheimer's patients hit 16 million by 2050.

To explore public perceptions regarding the disease, Alzheimer Europe conducted phone interviews of nearly 2,700 adults over the age of 18 in Europe and the United States in February.

The results: citizens in most of the five countries surveyed considered Alzheimer's to be the second-most feared disease, after cancer, with Polish respondents ranking it third behind both cancer and heart disease. Between half and three-quarters of the respondents said they had known someone who had developed the disease.

Yet despite such fears, the majority of those surveyed did not view Alzheimer's as a killer. Only about one-third of Germans and Poles recognized the disease's deadly threat, a figure that rose only slightly (to between roughly 42 percent and 44 percent) among the French and Spanish. Only in the United States did a majority (61 percent) register a clear concern about the disease's ability to end a life.

But, there was no hesitancy on whether to seek medical attention if symptoms developed. Overall, between 85 percent and 95 percent of those polled said they would go in for a screening if they became confused or experienced memory problems. And that figure rose when a family member's well-being was at stake.

Surprisingly, many of those polled believed that testing and treatments are more advanced than is currently the case.

For example, between 38 percent and 59 percent expressed confidence in the existence of a reliable test for the detection of early-stage Alzheimer's, despite the fact that such a test is not yet a reality.

What's more, depending on the country,
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