Community attitudes towards the early detection of cancer in Victoria, Australia

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2007 Feb;31(1):26-9.


Objectives: To describe people's attitudes towards early detection of cancer.

Methods: We conducted a telephone survey of Victorian adults aged 18+ years, during April-May 2005, using a market research company.

Results: 1,502 (41%) people participated; 80% of respondents believed that detecting cancer early meant that treatment saved lives most of the time or always; 88% believed finding cancer early enabled more effective treatment most of the time or always; and 70% indicated they would want to be tested for a cancer even if no treatment were available. Two-thirds or more of adults considered survival would be very much improved by early detection for breast, melanoma and prostate cancers; 49% for bowel cancer, and 30% for lung cancer.

Conclusions and implications: Community support for the early detection of cancer was evident even in the absence of effective treatment. There was a lower perceived survival benefit for the early diagnosis of bowel cancer, compared with breast or prostate cancer or melanoma. An education campaign is required that focuses on the gains associated with early detection and benefits of screening for bowel cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Victoria