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UICC World Cancer Congress 2006

Bridging the Gap: Transforming Knowledge into Action

July 8-12, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Sunday, 9 July 2006 - 12:00 PM

Perceptions on hereditary cancer in Netherlands and New-Zealand: implications for cancer education

Hein De Vries, PhD1, Marjolein Hol, MPH2, Ilse Mesters, PhD3, Careen Dankers, MPH3, and Brian Cox3. (1) Department of Health Promotion and Health Education, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, Netherlands, (2) Kankerbestrijding, (3) Department of Health Education and Promotion, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, Netherlands

Objective: To describe the general public's needs and perceptions concerning receiving information on the role of hereditary factors with regard to cancer were analyzed in the Netherlands and New Zealand, to describe risk perceptions and to relate the role to the importance of other risk factors.

Methods: Two cross-sectional studies were carried out, one in the Netherlands (Study 1; N=457) and one in New Zealand (Study 2 N=207) and compared.

Results: Knowledge levels about genetic cancer were similar in the Netherlands and New Zealand. In-depth differences did exist, however. In both countries recognition of warning signs was low, as was the recognition of inheritance patterns. The Dutch scored higher than respondents from New Zealand on risk-perceptions. More than 72% of the Dutch respondents wanted to receive information on hereditary cancer versus 64% of the New Zealand respondents. Participants wanted to know the types of cancer with hereditary aspects, how to recognise hereditary cancer in the family, personal risks and the steps to be taken when hereditary predisposition is suspected. Popular information channels mentioned were leaflets, the general practitioner, and the Internet. Cancer education should outline the most important facts about hereditary cancer, how to get support, and create realistic expectations of the impact of genetic factors, because one negative side effect of the attention for genetic predispositions was a disproportionate attribution of the impact of genetic dispositions to the detriment of the impact of healthy lifestyles.

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