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Br J Cancer. 2004 Jul 5;91(1):62-8.

The meanings of cancer and perceptions of cancer services among South Asians in Luton, UK.

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Institute for Health Services Research, University of Luton, St Nicholas House, 15-17 George Street, Luton LU1 2AF, UK.


Recent research has suggested that there is limited awareness of and information about cancer and cancer services among South Asian communities. This study explores the meanings of cancer and perceptions of cancer services among South Asians living in Luton. Six single-sex focus groups were conducted among the three main South Asian groups in Luton: (1) Punjabi-speaking Muslims originating from Pakistan (Pakistani Punjabi); (2) Sylheti-speaking Muslims originating from Bangladesh (Bangladeshi Sylheti); and (3) Punjabi-speaking Sikhs originating from the Indian Punjab (Indian Punjabi). Overall, it was found that the information relating to cancer for South Asian communities was limited. Participants in the study expressed a keen desire for this information to be made available via their community social networks. This lack of information resulted in low levels of awareness about cancer and related issues. Cancer was often perceived as an incurable disease, a reflection of the fact that access to appropriate services had been experienced at a relatively late stage of the illness. Informed education, therefore, is clearly essential to influence how people manage cancer and access cancer services. This paper describes the challenges that service providers and users face in ensuring effective and informed awareness.

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