Cancer screening rates lower among those with fatalistic attitudes

September 27, 2011

Even if health care is free, colorectal cancer screening rates among those without financial means are still low, and results of a new study suggest that may be due to an idea psychologists call cancer fatalism.

Anne Miles, Ph.D., a lecturer in psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, said those who felt that the cancer screenings wouldn't help, or they were going to die of cancer anyway, often failed to comply with screening recommendations.

Her findings are published in a recent issue of , Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"In England, the screenings are free and the subsequent health treatments are free as well, yet people of lower socioeconomic status still do not get screened. We wanted to find out what else was going on," she said.

Miles and her colleagues analyzed data from 529 adults aged 60 to 69 who had completed a series of surveys measuring their socioeconomic status, self-rated health and rate of cancer fatalism. These measures were tested against the rate of fecal occult blood testing.

They found that men and women with higher socioeconomic status, better self-rated health and lower cancer fatalism were 56 percent more likely to undergo by fecal occult blood testing.

Miles said cancer can be reduced if properly identified.

"There is clearly something else going on here besides costs. We need to understand peoples' attitudes toward screening," said Miles. "If they think it won't help, they won't do it, even if it's free."

Explore further: Colorectal cancer screening rates on rise among Medicare beneficiaries due to expansion of coverage

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study examines evolution of cancer

February 8, 2016

A novel Yale study answers age-old questions about how cancers spread by applying tools from evolutionary biology. The new insights will help scientists better understand the genetic origins of tumor metastases, and lead ...

The growing menace of HPV‑related throat and mouth cancers

February 2, 2016

There's a new cancer epidemic on the rise. It's an aggressive throat and mouth cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)—the same sexually transmitted virus that leads to cervical cancer—but it's affecting mostly ...

How gut inflammation sparks colon cancer

February 4, 2016

Chronic inflammation in the gut increases the risk of colon cancer by as much as 500 percent, and now Duke University researchers think they know why.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.