Majorities of Americans and Canadians Expect to See a Cure for Cancer in Their Lifetime

Two out of three don’t view a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, and progress is recognized across areas of prevention, detection, and treatment

10:00 AM EST Feb 3, 2016 Rating
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Majorities of Americans and Canadians Expect to See a Cure for Cancer in Their Lifetime

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Nearly six in 10 Americans (57%) and Canadians (59%) expect to see a cure for cancer in their lifetime. This optimism is especially strong among Millennials, with nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. Millennials and seven in 10 (69%) of their Canadian counterparts indicating the same.

What’s more, two-thirds of both Americans (68%) and Canadians (66%) don’t see a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence. In a sharp contrast to their especially strong optimism in reference to expecting a cure within their lifetimes, it’s notable that American Millennials are in fact more likely to believe that a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence (39% 18-34 vs. 29% 35+). Americans whose lives have been touched by cancer (35%) are also more likely to see a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, when compared to those whose lives have not been touched by cancer (29%).

"So many of us have had personal experiences with cancer or know someone who has,” says Harris Poll Vice President and Public Relations Consultant Deana Percassi. “In honor of World Cancer Day, we wanted to understand how Americans and Canadians feel about this disease."

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,046 U.S. adults and 1,120 Canadian adults surveyed online between January 20 and 22, 2016.

Efforts and advances

Majorities in both countries feel that efforts are being made – and that progress has been seen over the past 10 years – across multiple areas. But where are efforts and advances seen as most robust? Detection seems to be the watchword among both Americans and Canadians, while prevention efforts appear to be lagging by comparison. Reducing mortality rates and improving quality of life for patients living with cancer fall between these extremes.

It’s worth noting that in all four of these areas, perceived efforts and progress are especially strong among Americans who say their lives have been affected by cancer.

 

 

 

 

 


TABLE 1a

AGREE/DISAGREE – GENERAL ATTITUDES TOWARDS CANCER

Summary Grid

“Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.”

Base: All adults

 

Agree (NET)

Strongly Agree

Somewhat Agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

I expect to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime.

US

%

57

20

36

43

29

15

CAN

%

59

22

38

41

27

14

My life has been affected by Cancer.

US

%

54

26

28

46

16

30

CAN

%

48

20

28

52

15

37

I would rather be diagnosed with heart failure than cancer.

US

%

42

10

32

58

36

22

CAN

%

50

11

39

50

35

15

A cancer diagnosis is a death sentence.

US

%

32

9

24

68

43

25

CAN

%

34

9

25

66

43

23

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 1b

AGREE/DISAGREE – GENERAL ATTITUDES TOWARDS CANCER

By Whether Life Has Been Affected by Cancer

“Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.”

Base: All adults 

 

Agree (NET)

Disagree (NET)

United States

Canada

United States

Canada

Has been affected

Has not

Has been affected

Has not

Has been affected

Has not

Has been affected

Has not

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I expect to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime.

56

58

59

60

44

42

41

40

I would rather be diagnosed with heart failure than with cancer.

46

37

50

49

54

63

50

51

A cancer diagnosis is a death sentence.

35

29

36

31

65

71

64

69

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 


TABLE 1c

AGREE/DISAGREE – GENERAL ATTITUDES TOWARDS CANCER

By Age

“Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.”

Base: All adults 

 

Agree (NET)

Disagree (NET)

United States

Canada

United States

Canada

18-34

35+

18-34

35+

18-34

35+

18-34

35+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I expect to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime.

73

49

69

56

27

51

31

44

My life has been affected by Cancer.

51

55

49

47

49

45

51

53

I would rather be diagnosed with heart failure than with cancer.

39

43

36

55

61

57

64

45

A cancer diagnosis is a death sentence.

39

29

34

33

61

71

66

67

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 2a

PERCEIVED EFFORT IN AREAS OF CANCER DETECTION AND TREATMENT

Summary Grid

“How much effort do you think is currently being put into each of the following areas in [your country]?”

Base: All adults

 

Great Deal/Some Effort (NET)

A great deal of effort

Some effort

Very Little/No Effort (NET)

Very little effort

No effort at all

Reducing the risk of cancer

US

%

77

28

48

23

18

5

CAN

%

78

27

51

22

16

6

Improving cancer detection

US

%

87

38

50

13

10

3

CAN

%

85

34

51

15

11

4

Improving the quality of life for those living with cancer

US

%

82

31

51

18

14

4

CAN

%

82

27

55

18

15

4

Reducing the mortality rate of cancer (i.e., reducing the likelihood that patients die from cancer)

US

%

84

35

49

16

12

4

CAN

%

82

28

54

18

13

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 


TABLE 2b

PERCEIVED EFFORT IN AREAS OF CANCER DETECTION AND TREATMENT

“A great deal of effort” By Age & Whether Life Has Been Affected by Cancer

“How much effort do you think is currently being put into each of the following areas in [your country]?”

Base: All adults 

 

“A Great Deal of Effort”

United States

Canada

Life Affected

Age

Life Affected

Age

Has been affected

Has not

18-34

35+

Has been affected

Has not

18-34

35+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Reducing the risk of cancer

32

25

30

28

28

26

21

29

Improving cancer detection

40

35

37

38

38

30

33

34

Improving the quality of life for those living with cancer

35

26

30

31

28

25

27

27

Reducing the mortality rate of cancer (i.e., reducing the likelihood that patients die from cancer)

39

30

33

36

32

25

27

29

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3

PERCEIVED PROGRESS IN AREAS OF CANCER DETECTION AND TREATMENT IN PAST 10 YEARS

Summary Grid

“How much progress do you feel has been made in the past 10 years towards improving cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment?”

Base: All adults

 

A lot of/Some progress (NET)

A lot of progress

Some progress

Not/Very little progress (NET)

Very little progress

No progress

Reducing the risk of cancer

US

%

74

20

54

26

21

5

CAN

%

72

19

53

28

21

7

Improving cancer detection

US

%

87

35

52

13

10

3

CAN

%

83

30

53

17

14

3

Improving the quality of life for those living with cancer

US

%

82

29

53

18

14

4

CAN

%

79

25

55

21

17

3

Reducing the mortality rate of cancer (i.e., reducing the likelihood that patients die from cancer)

US

%

82

29

54

18

13

4

CAN

%

79

23

57

21

16

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3b

PERCEIVED PROGRESS IN AREAS OF CANCER DETECTION AND TREATMENT IN PAST 10 YEARS

“A lot of progress” By Age & Whether Life Has Been Affected by Cancer

“How much progress do you feel has been made in the past 10 years towards improving cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment?”

Base: All adults

 

“A Great Deal of Effort”

United States

Canada

Life Affected

Age

Life Affected

Age

Has been affected

Has not

18-34

35+

Has been affected

Has not

18-34

35+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Reducing the risk of cancer

24

16

22

20

20

18

14

21

Improving cancer detection

40

29

34

35

32

29

26

32

Improving the quality of life for those living with cancer

35

23

30

29

25

25

21

26

Reducing the mortality rate of cancer (i.e., reducing the likelihood that patients die from cancer)

33

24

29

29

28

18

20

24

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online between January 20 and 22, 2016 within the United States (in English) among 2,046 adults (aged 18 and over) and within Canada (in English and French) among 1,120 adults (also aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

The Harris Poll® #10, February 3, 2016

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll


About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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