More than a third of people in the UK fear cancer more than other life-threatening conditions – such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and heart disease according to our poll for Cancer Research UK.

Brain cancer is the most feared, followed by bowel and lung cancers.

The survey of more than 2,000 British adults asked which condition or disease respondents most feared, from a list that included conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, multiple sclerosis, HIV and malaria.

  • More than a third (35%) said cancer was the disease they feared most and a quarter (25%) said Alzheimer’s
  • When asked which cancer they feared most, 16% said brain cancer. The main reasons for this were that they believed it was the cancer they were most likely to die from (57%) and that it had the worst symptoms (47%)
  • For men, bowel cancer is the second most feared (12%) followed by lung (10%) and prostate (10%) cancers
  • For women, breast cancer is the second most feared (13%) followed by bowel (8%) and lung (7%) cancers

When asked about survival, 21% said they thought breast cancer had the best survival rate and 12% thought that those diagnosed with testicular cancer had the best chance of survival.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Cancer is a very emotive subject and it’s understandable why so many people fear it among other diseases. But what’s heartening is that overall survival from the disease has doubled over the last 40 years and this optimistic message is reaching the public as they have picked breast and testicular cancer as the cancers they are most likely to survive.

‘Our latest figures show more than 80% of women now survive their breast cancer for five years or more and 66% of women survive the disease for at least 20 years. Survival for testicular cancer is now over 95%, whereas in the early 1970s fewer than 7 in 10 testicular cancer patients survived for 5 years. And our research – directly funded by the generosity of the public – has been at the heart of that progress…

‘We need to do all we can to maintain the level of cancer research in the UK so that we can continue making discoveries which have the potential to save thousands of lives every year.’

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