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Most patients ‘do not fear death’ at cancer diagnosis

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Most people in the UK do not fear that a cancer diagnosis would automatically end in death, according to a charity poll.

The finding, in a new survey for Cancer Research UK, suggests that public awareness is growing regarding better survival rates for some cancers.

“It’s reassuring to see that most people don’t list fear of death as a reaction to cancer”

Martin Ledwick

Of those who had been diagnosed with cancer, only 30% of survey respondents said fear of death was one of the emotions they felt when they were given the news.

Similarly, just 29% of those who said they knew someone diagnosed with cancer mentioned fear of death, while 68% cited sadness and 52% shock at the news.

For cancer patients, 39% cited determination as one of the emotions they felt on getting a diagnosis.

The survey, carried out for the charity earlier this month by YouGov, involved 2,077 adults.

It marks the start of a new campaign highlighting the personal impact of cancer.

A series of short 60 and 30 second films, which show the experience of patients going through treatment or being told test results, will be broadcast over the coming weeks.

The “Right Now” campaign recorded patients, their families, friends as well as hospital staff and researchers at Southampton, Leeds and Bart’s in London.

Cancer Research UK hopes the campaign will highlight that cancer continues to have an emotional and physical impact, but that research is taking place to develop better treatments and improve survival.

Martin Ledwick

Martin Ledwick

Martin Ledwick

Only 6% of survey respondents correctly knew that one in two people in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their life. Most people, 83%, thought it was less common than one in two.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head cancer information nurse, said: “It’s reassuring to see that most people don’t list fear of death as a reaction to cancer.

“A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but more than ever before research has led to better treatments and more patients surviving,” he said.

He added: “In the future we know that one in two will be diagnosed with cancer but more people than ever are also surviving the disease.”

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