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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists developing new test for breast cancer

September 29, 2016

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) are working with researchers in France to develop a new potential way to detect and monitor breast cancer that could involve a simple blood test.

Tumor paint brings light to toddler's brain tumor

September 28, 2016

In December of last year, Laura Coffman began to notice that something wasn't quite right with her 2-year-old son, Hunter. He was leaning to one side and seemed to lose his balance easily. When he became lethargic and started ...

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.