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Scand J Public Health. 2017 Jul 1:1403494817715380. doi: 10.1177/1403494817715380. [Epub ahead of print]

Cancer beliefs in cancer survivors, cancer relatives and persons with no cancer experience.

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Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care (CaP), Research Unit for General Practice, Aarhus University, Denmark.



Negative cancer beliefs have been associated with late stage at cancer diagnosis. High levels of negative cancer beliefs have been found among individuals with low socioeconomic position and ethnic minority women, but the impact of cancer experience on cancer beliefs is unexamined. The aim of this study was to examine whether cancer beliefs are associated with cancer experience.


This was a cross-sectional population-based study. Telephone interviews of 2992 Danish residents (30+) were carried out using the Awareness and Beliefs about Cancer Measure (ABC). Respondents reported whether they or someone close had been diagnosed with cancer and whether they agreed/disagreed with three positively and three negatively framed cancer beliefs.


Respondents with someone close diagnosed was reference group. Compared with these, respondents with no cancer experience (RRadj=0.91, 95% CI=0.84-0.98) or who had had cancer themselves (RRadj=0.87, 0.77-0.98) were less likely to believe that cancer treatment is worse than the cancer itself, and respondents with no cancer experience were less likely to believe that a diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence (RRadj=0.83, 0.70-0.98), but more likely to report that they did not want to know if they had cancer (RRadj=1.31, 1.01-1.71).


The results suggest that cancer beliefs are sensitive to cancer experience. This is an important addition to previous results focusing on the association between cancer beliefs and static factors such as socioeconomic position and ethnicity. Since cancer beliefs may determine health-related behaviour, it is important that negative cancer beliefs are addressed and possibly reframed in population-based interventions.


Cancer beliefs; Denmark; cancer experience; population-based; telephone interview


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