Every year in the UK 2,000 teenagers and young adults (TYAs) aged 15-24 are diagnosed with cancer1, of which around 180 (10%) live in Scotland2. This means that, on average, every two days someone in Scotland aged 15-24 receives a cancer diagnosis. Skin cancer (melanomas) accounts for almost a quarter (24%) of these cases2. Yet, we currently know very little about teenagers’ cancer awareness and help-seeking behaviour. A study conducted by researchers from the Cancer Care Research Centre (CCRC) at the University of Stirling has for the first time provided insight into cancer awareness among young people in Britain.
In August 2011 CCRC researchers conducted a survey of 478 young people aged 11-17 years old (male=52%, mean age=14) from four schools across Britain. The study assessed adolescents’ cancer awareness using the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) developed by Cancer Research UK3. The survey revealed that:
Cancer awareness was significantly lower among younger adolescents (aged 11-12 years) and those who did not know someone with cancer. Females were significantly more likely to endorse emotional barriers to help-seeking.
This study provides an initial picture of patterns of cancer awareness among young people in Britain and can be used to inform the development and delivery of targeted awareness-raising interventions. Such interventions have potential to contribute to early diagnosis and improved survival throughout the life course.
Further analysis of these data is currently underway to examine associations between adolescents’ awareness of cancer risk factors and health-related behaviours (e.g., smoking, sun-bed use).
Dr Richard Kyle (Lecturer) and Dr Gill Hubbard (Co-Director)
Cancer Care Research Centre, University of Stirling
1. Cancer Research UK (CRUK): Cancer incidence by age – UK statistics http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/incidence/age
2. iSD Scotland: Cancer in Teenagers and Young Adults in Scotland (1979-2008) http://www.isdscotlandarchive.scot.nhs.uk/isd/1631.html#Teenage
3. CRUK: Cancer Awareness Measure Toolkit V2.1 London: CRUK; 2011.
4. Kyle RG, Forbat L, Hubbard G: Cancer awareness among adolescents in Britain: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 2012;12:580. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/580/abstract
This article was originally published in the SCPN Newsletter, Volume 3, Issue 4.
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