FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday 4 February, 2016
Big variation in cancer prevention awareness across Europe
Brussels, 4 February
A recent survey* commissioned by the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL) has found remarkable variation in knowledge and awareness of key cancer prevention information across Europe.
The survey of over 6,000 people from 5 EU Member States (Finland, France, Spain, Poland and the UK) shows that awareness of the European Code Against Cancer is low in general, with just 10% of respondents indicating that they had previously heard of the Code. The European Code Against Cancer is a set of 12 recommendations for how the general public can reduce their cancer risk. Developed by top European scientists, the Code offers simple guidance for everyone, which can lead to a reduction of cancer risk of up to 50%. In Poland, the situation was better than the average, as 17% of people knew of the European Code Against Cancer. However, in the UK, this figure was barely 1%.
The survey also reported:
• A large variation in the degree to which people feel cancer can be prevented. Only 20% of respondents believed that either cancer could not be prevented at all or did not know what percentage of cancers are preventable.
• Young people had the most to learn, with nearly 60% of under 35s learning something new by reading the Code;
• More than 50% of respondents were likely to change their behaviour due to the Code.
Sakari Karjalainen, MD, Ph.D., President of ECL and Secretary General of the Cancer Society of Finland, notes on this World Cancer Day:
"The European Code Against Cancer is an essential tool for the general public of specific actions they can take to dramatically reduce their cancer risk. We all need to be reminded that nearly half of all deaths due to cancer in Europe could be prevented by following the straightforward messages of the European Code Against Cancer. It is concerning to hear that awareness of this vital knowledge is worryingly low in some countries. We must increase our efforts at the local and national levels to communicate the Code widely, and encourage governments for supportive policies and actions.
As citizens, patients and civil society groups come together to celebrate World Cancer Day 2016, ECL stresses the importance of the European Code Against Cancer as a vital tool in the fight against cancer."
* The primary aim of this survey was to collect baseline data on the awareness levels of the European Code Against Cancer in the general population, which could be revisited over time to appreciate the impact of Code dissemination activities being implemented by ECL. ECL is currently receiving co-funding from the European Commission in the form of an Operating Grant to disseminate the European Code Against Cancer. The full survey report is here.
- The survey was performed through an online omnibus survey conducted by YouGov between 21st October and 2nd November 2015. A total of 6,109 respondents contributed to this survey. Respondents were recruited from YouGov’s online research panel. A representative sample of all adults (aged 18+) were reached in each surveyed country.
- The 4th edition of the European Code Against Cancer is the result of a project coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and co-financed by European Commission’s Health Programme (2008-2013). It is the outcome of a two-year collaborative work between cancer specialists, scientists, and other experts from across the European Union. Originally launched in 1987, the Code is currently in its 4th edition, which was published in October 2014.
For further information about ECL, please call +32 (0) 2 256 2000 or email Code (at) europeancancerleagues.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
The views expressed on our website and reports do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.