DiversityNursing Blog

Majority Of People Ignore Cancer Warning Signs, Study Finds

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 11:54 AM

By Honor Whiteman

cancer definition

Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In 2012, there were around 14 million new cases of cancer and around 8.2 million deaths from the disease. But despite such alarming numbers, a new study by researchers from the UK finds that most people ignore cancer warning signs, attributing them instead to symptoms of less serious illnesses.

Lead study author Dr. Katriina Whitaker, senior research fellow at University College London in the UK, analyzed the responses of 1,724 people aged 50 and over to a health questionnaire that was sent to them in April 2012.

The questionnaire asked participants whether they had experienced any of 17 symptoms, 10 of which are defined as cancer "alarm" symptoms by Cancer Research UK. These symptoms include unexplained cough, changes in mole appearance, unexplained bleeding, persistent change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing and unexplained lumps. 

Participants were not told which symptoms are cancer warning signs.

The respondents were also asked what they thought was the cause of any symptoms they experienced, whether they deemed the symptoms to be serious and whether they visited their doctor as a result of their symptoms.

Only 2% of respondents considered warning symptoms to be cancer-related

Results of study - published in the journal PLOS ONE - revealed that 53% of participants reported that they had experienced at least one cancer warning sign over the past 3 months.

The most common cancer warning symptoms reported were persistent cough and persistent change in bowel habits, while unexplained weight loss and problems swallowing were the least common.

However, the researchers were surprised to find that of the respondents who reported cancer warning symptoms, only 2% considered cancer to be a potential cause.

What is more, Dr. Whitaker says that of participants who reported the most obvious signs of cancer - such as unexplained lumps or changes in mole appearance - most did not consider them to be cancer-related.

"Even when people thought warning symptoms might be serious, cancer didn't tend to spring to mind," adds Dr. Whitaker. "This might be because people were frightened and reluctant to mention cancer, thought cancer wouldn't happen to them or believed other causes were more likely."

On a positive note, respondents did deem the cancer warning signs to be more serious than symptoms not linked to cancer - such as shortness of breath, fatigue and sore throat- and 59% of those who experienced cancer warning signs visited their doctor.

But the researchers say their findings show that the majority of people are dismissing potential warning signs of cancer, which could be putting their health at serious risk. Dr. Whitaker says:

"Most people with potential warning symptoms don't have cancer, but some will and others may have other diseases that would benefit from early attention. That's why it's important that these symptoms are checked out, especially if they don't go away. But people could delay seeing a doctor if they don't acknowledge cancer as a possible cause."

"Most cancers are picked up through people going to their general practitioner (GP) about symptoms, and this study indicates that opportunities for early diagnosis are being missed," adds Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK. "Its results could help us find new ways of encouraging people with worrying symptoms to consider cancer as a possible cause and to get them checked out straight away with a GP."

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: risk, signs, symptoms, nursing, health, healthcare, research, doctors, medical, cancer

Ethnic Minorities have Lower Cancer Rates

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 @ 03:15 PM

ethnicNew research suggests that ethnic minorities in Scotland are less likely to get cancer than white Scots.

According to data gathered by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the rate of cancer in Indian men living in the country was 45.9% of that of white Scots, whereas the rate among Chinese men was found to be 57.6% in comparison.

The investigation, which examined ethnic variations in the rate of cancer using figures from the Scottish Cancer Registry, the NHS and the 2001 Scottish Census, revealed the lowest rate of lung cancer to be among Pakistani men living in Scotland, at 45% of the rate for white Scots.

People from Scotland’s Pakistani community were found to have the lowest rates for colorectal, breast and prostate cancers

Professor Raj Bhopal, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Population Health Sciences, said: “Cancer rates in migrants and their children tend to become similar to those in the local population. Despite their long residence in Scotland, however, ethnic minority groups have lower rates of cancer than the white Scots.

“There is much to learn here that could benefit the whole population, which could improve everyone’s health.”

The results were published in the journal BMJ Open.

Topics: risk, minorities, less likely, ethnic, cancer

What Disease Hits Black Men Most?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 @ 02:36 PM

Article from http://diversityinc.com

CommunityHealth310A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that in almost every state men of color continue to fare worse than white men on a variety of measures of health, healthcare access and other social determinants of health.

The report, Putting Men’s Health Care Disparities On The Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level, documents thepersistence of disparities between white men and men of color—and among different groups within men of color—on 22 indicators of health and well-being, including rates of diseases such as AIDS, cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as insurance coverage and health screenings. It also documents disparities in factors that influence health and access to care such as income and education.

This new analysis provides state-level data for men of many racial and ethnic populations that have not been available before. Among the findings:

  • American Indian and Alaska native men had higher rates of health and access problems than men in other racial and ethnic groups on nearly all health indicators. They also had the highest poverty rate and second worst educational attainment, unemployment rate and incarceration rate.
  • More than four in 10 Latino men lacked insurance (46 percent) and a personal health care provider (49 percent), and more than a fifth (22 percent) had no doctor visit in the previous year due to cost. Latino men also had the lowest median household income, the largest wage gap compared to white men and the lowest educational status.
  • Black men had much higher rates of poverty and incarceration and lower rates of high school graduation than whites. The most striking health disparity was that nationally Black men were more than seven times as likely as white men to be newly diagnosed with AIDS, with a rate of 101.5 new AIDS cases per 100,000 Blacks ages 13 and older compared with 13.5 new cases per 100,000 whites. The disparity was even larger in some states, such as Nebraska,Pennsylvania, and Maryland, where the rate of new AIDS cases was more than 10 times as high among black men compared to whites.
  • Nationally, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander men had the lowest rate of health problems and the fewest barriers to access of all subgroups of men, even white men.
  • While white men fared better than minority men on most access and social indicators, they had higher rates of some health problems than men of color, such as higher rates of smoking and binge drinking. For example, in Wisconsin35 percent of white men reported binge drinking compared with 20 percent of minority men.
  • Some of the states with the greatest access disparities between white and minority men included Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., all of which also exhibited some of the greatest disparities in income between white and minority men. Several states with relatively large Native American populations—Arizona,North Dakota and South Dakota—also had large disparities in access between white and minority men.

The full report, including detailed state-by-state data tables and related fact sheets, is available online.

A companion report released in 2009 examines similar racial and ethnic disparities among women, and includes state fact sheets and interactive data tables, also is available.

For more on decreasing disparities in healthcare, watch the video below on WellPoint’s innovative Community Ambassador Program:

Topics: risk, men, black, disease

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