Authors: J Kishore, Irfan Ahmad, PK Mohanta, GK Ingle
Introduction: The prevalence of beliefs and myths amongst cancer patients is a reflection of the level of knowledge available in the community regarding cancer. Since a cancer patient has the capability of influencing opinions amongst others more forcefully. This information could be utilized in preparation of cancer awareness program. However, not much information is available particularly about Indian cancer patients.
Objectives: To study the belief system and perceptions of the cancer patient about the disease.
Method: A face-to-face interview was conducted among 95 patients of cancer attending the out-patient-department of Oncology & Radiotherapy, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, regarding their beliefs and perception about cancer and their outlook towards its treatment. The questionnaire was designed and pre-tested. It contained 42 items on various aspects such as patient’s own idea of his disease, about its causation, its early diagnosis and its prevention, the impact of treatment whether successful or futile beside demographic information. The data was analysed using Epi-Info software package.
Results: Majority of patients were misinformed about the cancer. 27.3% believed that cancer is contagious and can be transmitted by contact. People get cancer due to ill wishes (58%), spirit (48%), God curse (59%), evil eye (60%), past/present sin (38%), and immoral behaviour (34%). Only 15% of patients believed that cancer can be prevented. 48% believed that death is certain in cancer. Wrong views were significantly more in illiterate than literate patients.
Conclusion: Beliefs in myths are common which is associated with illiteracy. Such wrong views are hindrance in accepting proper health services and need to be removed through mass awareness program.