New survey demonstrates need to simplify science information for people living with cancer

Today sees the release of the results of a May 2016 survey of patient/carer groups about patient-focused scientific information on cancer, sponsored by AstraZeneca. The complete deck of survey results can be downloaded at the link at the end of this blog.

Scientists understand far more about cancer than they did even as recently as 15 years ago. New cancer therapies are continually being developed. Advances in immunotherapy and DNA damage repair, in particular, hold real promise for people who might have one of several types of cancer. Cancer treatments, it seems, are finally beginning to emerge from the era of radical surgery and toxic chemo- and radiotherapies.

However, according to the patient/carer groups responding to this latest survey, the dissemination of patient-focused information about the innovations has failed to keep pace with the advances in cancer science.

The survey gathered feedback from 124 cancer-oriented patient/carer organisations in 39 countries. Results indicate a real need for scientific information that is accessible to, and understood by, people living with (and affected by) cancer. The majority of respondent organisations recognise that cancer science is complex and changing rapidly, and nearly all “Agree” or “Somewhat agree” that people with cancer want to know how their treatments work.

Although excellent cancer-education resources have been created by many healthcare stakeholders (including patient organisations, health-professional bodies, medical institutions, government agencies, and the pharmaceutical industry), the cancer-oriented patient/carer organisations responding to the survey issued a clear call to action to everyone who works on education initiatives for people who are living with cancer: make it clear and understandable, and make it accessible.

The result should then be a more empowered and informed population fighting cancer—and people with cancer who are armed with the evidence-based information they need to direct their healthcare decisions.

The full results of the survey can be found in the slide deck below: