Awareness and Perception About Cancer Among the Public in Chennai, India

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Elangovan, Vidhubala ; Rajaraman, Swaminathan ; Basumalik, Barsha ; Pandian, Dhivya (2016)
  • Publisher: American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Journal: Journal of Global Oncology, volume 3, issue 5, pages 469-479 (issn: 2378-9506, eissn: 2378-9506)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC5646888, doi: 10.1200/JGO.2016.006502
  • Subject: RC254-282 | Health Services and Outcomes | ORIGINAL REPORTS | Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology. Including cancer and carcinogens

Purpose: Cancer-related stigma influences the way people perceive cancer, which renders cancer control—beginning with prevention and proceeding to palliation—a challenging task. This study aimed to assess the current levels of awareness and perceptions about cancer among people with various socioeconomic status and diverse backgrounds in the city of Chennai, India. Patients and Methods: The sample population (N = 2,981; 18 to 88 years of age) was stratified into four groups: patients (n = 510), caregivers (n = 494) consulting at the Cancer Institute (Women Indian Association), college students (n = 978), and general public (n = 999). Fourteen statements related to cancer stigma or myths were identified and categorized by awareness (10 items) or perception (4 items). Responses to those statements were recorded by using a Likert scale (yes, no, and don’t know). The data were described by frequency analysis and χ2 test using SPSS Version 13 (SPSS, Chicago, IL). Results: More than 70% of the study participants were aware that cancer is curable, that cancer is not contagious, and that cancer is not a curse or a death sentence. However, only approximately half believed that surgery or biopsy do not cause cancer to spread to other organs or that radiation therapy does not consist of receiving an electric shock. Higher education, younger age, male sex, personal experience with cancer (either as a patient or caregiver), and high socioeconomic status were the categories of people with increased awareness about cancer. Conclusion: These factors need to be taken into consideration in tailoring information, education, and communication campaigns. Resource allocation for these campaigns is an investment in cancer control.
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