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Survey reveals ignorance and confusion about cancer amongst the elderly
Date:9/25/2007

Barcelona, Spain: Elderly Spaniards have very poor knowledge about cancer, its causes, treatment and prevention according to research carried out amongst people living in and around Barcelona. Some even believe that cancer is a contagious disease and that it is a punishment for something bad that the patient has done.

In a poster discussion today (Tuesday) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona, Dr Tania Estap said: This reports shows how important it is to improve and increase the cancer education programmes that are targeted towards older people.

Dr Estap, a psychosocial programme coordinator in the psychosocial oncology department at the Fundacin para la Educacin y la Formacin en Cncer (FEFOC), Barcelona, Spain, said that misconceptions about cancer could be very damaging. Some attitudes and misconceptions about cancer may lead to the elderly avoiding or not participating fully in a healthy lifestyle. For instance, more than half of our respondents did not know that being overweight is a risk factor for cancer, she said.

She and her colleagues questioned 557 people aged 65 and over in one-to-one interviews. The average age was 74. When asked about prevention and early diagnosis, only 53.5% believed that cancer could be prevented and 94% did not know the European Code against Cancer, although they knew some of its recommendations; for instance, over 90% knew to avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and sunbathing. However, only 45.8% knew about the impact of diet on cancer and only 38.1% knew about avoiding being overweight. Three-quarters knew that cancer could be diagnosed early, but only 44% knew about the PSA test for prostate cancer and 34% knew about early detection of breast cancer. Men appeared to be better informed than women about early diagnosis, with more men believing in the possibility of early diagnosis for prostate, breast and colon cancer.

When asked what they knew about cancer, 66% believed t
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
34-932-308-834
ECCO-the European CanCer Conference
Source:Eurekalert

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