From the Journals: Fear May Reduce Colorectal Cancer Screening Uptake


Charlotte Vrinten, a researcher at the Cancer Research U.K. Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London.

A recent study in the AACR’s journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggests that different types of cancer fear have different effects on people, and a type of fear may be keeping people from getting necessary colorectal cancer screenings.

Charlotte Vrinten, who conducted the study with her colleagues at Cancer Research U.K. Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, said fear can have varying effects. Worrying about cancer may motivate people to get screened, but uncomfortable feelings about cancer may also keep them away.

In her study, she found that those who felt uncomfortable with thoughts of cancer were 12 percent less likely to attend screening.

“Twelve percent may not seem like a lot,” said Vrinten, “but given that tens of thousands of people are eligible for this type of screening, it means a big difference in the number of people actually attending. Public campaigns often focus on increasing public fear about cancer, for example, by emphasizing how common cancer is or how deadly some types of cancer are. This might put some people off, rather than motivate them to get screened.”

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