Cancer awareness and beliefs
Individual and community knowledge and understanding about cancer, its causes and symptoms, treatments and likely survivability is an enabler for improving cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Participation in cancer care, clinical outcomes and patient experience can be improved by providing individuals and community with clear, culturally safe information about:
- cancer risk factors and the benefits of preventive healthcare, screening and genetic testing
- signs and symptoms of cancer and the benefits of early detection
- accuracy and effectiveness of tests and treatments for cancer.
Fear or mistrust of mainstream health systems, feelings of stigma or shame, and misconceptions about cancer and its causes may influence how information is received or understood by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Information and education about cancer should be provided in a way that acknowledges potential feelings and is respectful of cultural beliefs, including concepts of family and kinship.
There are currently no national data available for the indicator/s.
A number of mainstream instruments exist for measuring cancer awareness. However, their relevance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is unknown.1 Measurement of individual and community knowledge and understanding about cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would benefit from including measures of cancer awareness and of beliefs about whether cancer can be prevented and its survivability.
- Cancer Australia. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework. Priority area 1: Improve knowledge, attitudes and understanding of cancer by individuals, families, carers and community members (across the continuum)
- Cancer Australia. Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer. Step 1: Prevention and early detection
1. Simon AE, Forbes LJL, Boniface D et al. An international measure of awareness and beliefs about cancer: development and testing of the ABC. BMJ Open 2012:2:e001758. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001758