Experts: Cancer is no longer considered a verdict in Belarus

EuroBelarus Information Service

World Cancer Day is celebrated on February 4. What do the Belarusan know about the oncological diseases and what is their attitude towards them?

“The World Cancer Day is important for society because it reminds us that together, by joining our efforts and the plans of politicians, scientists, the medical community, civil society, manufacturers, journalists, we can improve the quality of the short people’s life on this planet,” Iryna Zhykhar, director of Cancer patients support center “In the Name of Life”.

We need to involve a wide range of activists in the solution of the problem as oncological diseases require a special approach that is not limited to purely medical measures, but covers social and psychological factors as well.

Another extremely important aspect for fighting cancer is the attitude of the people themselves, their ideas and views, because the effective prevention and early diagnosis, which are crucial in this area, depends on this. Only recently, the phenomenon that sociologists call “oncophobia” was widespread in Belarus. “You have cancer” coming from the lips of an oncologist was perceived not as a diagnosis, but as a verdict and taking a blood test for oncomarkers or undergoing a mammogram meant to admit the thought that one might be deadly sick.

“Now cancer is no longer considered a verdict, rather, it is a chronic disease that is almost completely curable in the early stages,” proudly admitted Siarhei Krasny, deputy director for scientific work of the N. Aliaksandrau RSPC for Oncology and Medical Radiology in his recent interview with BelaPAN. According to teh expert, about 60% of cancer patients are cured in Belarus, which is a very good result.

The survey conducted by the Center for European Transformation (the survey was conducted in August 2016 on a representative national sample of 1988 people), asked the Belarusans to agree with one of the two statements: “Cancer is a deadly disease, only temporary remission is possible, but the disease will always return” or “Cancer is a disease and there is a high chance of recovery if it is detected early and properly treated.” According to the survey, two-thirds (65.2%) of the population of our country consider cancer to be a curable disease, and about one third (34% accordingly) still believes that oncological diseases are fatal by nature.

“Every third Belarusan still lives in the world of ideas, disproved by medicine decades ago,” commented on the results of the study sociologist Aksana Shelest, senior analyst of CET. “Unfortunately, there have been no mass polls on this topic before, so we have nothing to compare with and cannot talk about any dynamics of oncophobia in our society. The majority of youth does not believe in the incurability of cancer unlike the older age groups, which means that we can expect positive dynamics in the adequate perception of cancer in the long term.”

According to sociologists, the results of the survey show both the high level of interest in the new ways of preventing and treating cancer and express the gradual overcoming of psychological barriers associated with the topic of oncological diseases.

EuroBelarus Information Service