DOHA: About 90 percent of the respondents to the first nation- wide survey on cancer believe that some treatments are worse than the disease.
The survey conducted by the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) among Qataris and expatriates also found that a majority of the respondents — 76 percent — had the feeling that cancer mostly leads to death. These and other widespread misconceptions have prompted the SCH to launch a national awareness campaign on the disease next month.
“The survey also revealed the social stigma attached to cancer. Fifty per cent of the respondents said that it is not easy for them to talk about the disease and 85 percent said they were even scared to use the word cancer,” said Dr Mohammed Al Thani (pictured), Director of the Public Health Department at SCH, while disclosing the findings of the survey yesterday.
“The survey showed that there are many wrong perceptions among people about cancer. This underlines the importance of launching a campaign to raise awareness on the disease,” he said at a press conference at SCH on the occasion of the World Cancer Day.
Fifty percent of the respondents think that surgery could increase the spread of cancer in the body. However, some 90 percent believe cancer is treatable.
One-third of the participants said having a family history of cancer reduced their chances of getting married, while 45 percent said they were afraid of losing their jobs if they were affected by the disease.
“The danger of such wrong perceptions could negatively affect efforts to fight the disease and hinder early intervention through treatment and checkup,” said Al Thani.
He said that after completion of the awareness campaign, the SCH will launch another survey to assess its impact.
“Cancer poses a big challenge for the health sector in the region and internationally and takes a sizeable portion of the health budget,” said Al Thani,
Breast caner is the most common type of cancer among women in Qatar and lung cancer is the most common among men because about 30 percent of the male population are smokers, he added.
The SCH is conducting studies in collaboration with the World Health Organisation focusing on the main causes of cancer in Qatar and its relation with food and environment.
Dr Sheikha Al Anoud bint Mohammed Al Thani, Director of Health Promotion and Non-communicable Diseases Section at SCH, said that the SCH had set up a task forces and sub-committees to follow up implementation of the national cancer strategy.