In July 2017, ASCO conducted a National Cancer Opinion Survey to test the knowledge of over 4,000 Americans in regards to their understanding and opinions about cancer.
The 4,000+ participants were over the age of 18 and a total of 4% of respondents presently have or have had cancer themselves and 32% have an immediate family member who has or has had a cancer diagnosis.
Key takeaways from the survey included:
- Only 25% of survey respondents recognized lack of physical activity as a cancer risk factor but 48% admitted to exercising regularly.
- Only 30% of survey respondents recognized consumption of alcohol as a cancer risk factor and only 38% admitted to limiting their alcohol consumption.
- Only 31% of survey respondents recognized obesity as a cancer risk factor but 41% admitted to maintaining a healthy weight.
- There were 66% of survey respondents who recognized sun exposure as a cancer risk factor, however only 48% are using sunblock to decrease their cancer risk and only 48% are limiting exposure to the sun without wearing sunblock.
- Additionally, 78% of survey respondents recognized tobacco use as a cancer risk factor.
When questioned about the cost of cancer treatment, 91% of respondents felt the cost of cancer drugs was too high. Astonishingly, 25% of respondents had taken action or have a loved one who has taken steps to reduce costs that could jeopardize the effectiveness of their treatment (including things like skipping doctor appointments, refusing treatment, not filling prescriptions or skipping doses or cutting pills in half).
Additionally, 73% of respondents support additional governmental funding/spending to find more cancer treatments and cures for cancer. Thirty-nine percent also believe we will find a cure for cancer within 10 years, 66% said within 25 years and 79% believe it will happen within 50 years.
It was interesting to see how many people still do not have a thorough understanding of cancer risk factors and how to reduce their own personal cancer risk. Sharing your knowledge and expertise in this area whether it be through social media, email, 1:1 conversations with others, organizing events or educational sessions in your community to raise awareness, etc. are all important considerations to get the word out. It is easy to assume everyone knows everything they need to know about cancer; but this survey proves otherwise.
There is still work to be done. Share your knowledge. Share your expertise.
Help educate those around you and encourage them to educate others around them!