Lung cancer: what do the French know about the disease they fear the most?

According to an Ipsos survey, carried out in July among 1,000 adults representative of the French population, lung cancer would hold a sad palme d’or, that of the most frightening pathology. But beyond this perception, what do the French know more precisely about this cancer?

By selecting the three diseases that scare them the most (from a predefined list), more than three quarters of French people (76%) mentioned cancer, thus raising it to first place ahead of Alzheimer’s disease (60%) and loss of sight (44%). And among the most frequent cancers, that of the lung is the most dreaded by those questioned (at 61% among men and 59% among women), even more among smokers (respectively at 78 and 75%). It precedes, in particular, tumors of the breast, stomach, liver and prostate.

In fact, lung cancer is perceived as serious by 98% of participants and very serious by 77%, rightly so since it is the leading cause of death from cancer in men and the second in women. . It raises legitimate fears about the difficulties of diagnosis and treatment: only 27% think that it is one of the easiest to diagnose and 13% of those who are best treated.

Improve knowledge of risk factors

If 79% of respondents know that an early diagnosis increases the chances of recovery, nearly one in two is unaware that lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Regarding the risk factors, some seem quite clearly identified: tobacco for 85% and certain harmful substances (asbestos, pesticides, radon, etc.) for 71%. On the other hand, this is already much less the case for other risk factors, such as pollution (56%) or cannabis (38%). For the latter, 50% of the participants are not sure of themselves and 13% think that it is not one. We have long underestimated its effectexplains Professor Christos Chouaid, oncologist at CHIC de Créteil. It is now clearly established that smoking only cannabis is a risk factor, apart from tobacco. According to studies, one joint is equivalent to seven cigarettes! “.

Thus, half of the French respondents do not feel sufficiently informed about the risk factors and the behaviors to adopt to limit the risk of developing this cancer. “There is room for improvement, observes Professor Chouaid. There is today in France a need to improve knowledge with objective information, as evidenced by current cancer exposure at the City of Science. We begin to be able to name cancer. »

Communicate about new therapies

Among the main treatments, the oldest seem to be the best known: chemotherapy (59%), surgery (55%) and radiotherapy (48%). On the other hand, less than 20% of French people would know precisely what immunotherapy (18%) or targeted therapy (19%) is. “These newer treatments do not speak to the respondents. The Patients en Réseau association is currently preparing a digital learning module “myimmuno” to help patients and their families better understand immunotherapy »notes Laure Guéroult-Accolas, founder and director of Patients in Network.

Patients often blamed

Although 82% of French people questioned are aware that lung cancer can affect anyone, more than a third think that those affected have all smoked (31%), have a heavy smoker (38%) and a bad lifestyle (36%). However, if a large part of the patients smoked, approximately 15% had not consumed tobacco. Moreover, nearly two thirds of the participants in the survey (64%) believe, rightly, that society often tends to make patients feel guilty, even to exclude them (for 39%).

According to the Ipsos survey presented at the Janssen laboratory press conference, September 8, 2022

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Lung cancer: what do the French know about the disease they fear the most?