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The face of cancer: public perception versus cancer statistics

The face of cancer: public perception versus cancer statistics

Journal of Clinical Oncology 26(15_Suppl): 17503-17503

NlmCategory="UNASSIGNED">17503 Background: More than 60 percent of cancer diagnoses occur among people over age 65. Initiatives to address management of older adults with cancer are ongoing. In order to continue the efforts, public support for research in cancer and aging will be important. However, does the public perception of cancer and aging match what is reported in cancer statistics? A convenience sample was drawn to complete a 17-question pilot survey over a 1 month period. Demographics data were collected. The survey queried participants about their knowledge on the statistics associated with cancer and aging, participation of seniors in clinical trials, and other topics relating to cancer and aging. One-hundred subjects who met study eligibility completed the survey. Demographics are as follows: 44 male, 56 female; 87% Caucasian; median age 45 (range, 19-91). Only 28% identified correctly 61-70 years as the median age at cancer diagnosis for many cancers. Only 11% answered correctly that 60% of cancer diagnoses occur among people over age 65. 72% subjects correctly answered that <10% of seniors participated in research studies. Only 18% felt doctors have enough information on the use of anti-cancer drugs in seniors with cancer, but 36% thought the government mandates testing of drugs in older adults before a drug can be used in this population. A high percentage (52%) surveyed also stated they felt drug companies do not try hard enough to find the best way to use their products in seniors, mainly due to insufficient financial incentives. Although 83% surveyed stated they knew someone age 65 or older with cancer, majority (66%) perceived the "face of cancer" to be more than a full decade younger compared with the actual cancer statistics. A future random sampling to verify our results is planned. The aging population highlights the continued need to address issues that may be unique to the older cancer adults. A public campaign to better educate the general public about cancer and aging may help to increase awareness and research for this long time under-served population. [Table: see text].

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Accession: 059068811

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PMID: 27950640

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