Cancer in public perception, part 1

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Cancer in public perception, part 1


Depression in cancer

The social perception of cancer largely determines quality of life during illness. Attitudes towards people with this type of illness depend mainly on the knowledge we have and our attitudes towards them. Nevertheless, stereotypes, which are constructed on the basis of information reaching the individual, play a very significant role in the perception of sick people. Hence the high importance of health education and the transmission of accurate knowledge.


Each year there is a recorded increase in the number of cases of malignant tum ours, and they are one of the main causes of death in our country. As statistics and epidemiological forecasts indicate, it is this group of conditions that will soon constitute the most common cause of death. To outline the scale of the growing problem, it is worth recalling the historical statistics: in 1999, 111,000 cases and 81,000 deaths were recorded; in 2009, the incidence had risen to 130,000 and the deaths to 93,000. Even then, there was an upward trend in the scale of the problem [1]. Projections by the World Health Organisation and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) indicate that cancer will soon be diagnosed in one in four Poles. Factors contributing to this phenomenon include the ageing of the Polish population, the habitual adoption of risky behaviours and, at the same time, increased exposure to carcinogens. Social opinion in this area forms the basis for the formation of beliefs and, consequently, shapes attitudes towards health behaviour in this area. In many cases, the reason for engaging in risky behaviour is the lack of sufficient knowledge regarding the first symptoms of cancer. However, knowledge is a component of social opinion, which in itself has many functions - integrative, explanatory, formative, controlling or even consultative. All of these functions are important in shaping health attitudes, including towards prevention, early detection of cancer and the treatment process itself [1].

Educating the public seems therefore to be crucial in the fight against the spread of cancer, but for education to be such, an element of trust in the person providing the knowledge is needed. The reliability of information is therefore of paramount importance, as this is what influences the formation of health attitudes, taking into account both demographic, sociological and economic differences, as well as differences in needs in this area [1].

Knowledge of cancer

The results of ongoing research and analysis indicate a gradual increase in public knowledge of oncology and cancer-related behaviour. The state of awareness is improving, but taking action in a habitual context is still an area of concern for professionals - despite many people being aware of the causes of cancer, they do not take early elimination or health-promoting action to avoid getting the disease [1].

photo: panthermedia

The main social problem that is observed is that of undergoing preventive examinations. This is because there is an apparent lack of regular examination and monitoring of one's health. Most people speak of a lack of knowledge regarding the need for such examinations and a low awareness of the risk factors and sources of cancer [1].