Despite the majority of people thinking that cancer screening is 'almost always a good idea', screening rates are not as high as they should be, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.
The study highlighted that while the vast majority of people thought that cancer screening was always a good idea, this was not reflected in screening uptake rates. Using data from national screening programmes, they found that in England, 58 per cent of people take up bowel screening, 78 per cent take up cervical screening, and 77 per cent take up breast screening.
Researchers from University College London, interviewed almost 1900 people aged between 50 and 80 years old about their views on cancer screening. Despite the lower screening uptake rates, they found that 90 per cent of people thought that having oneself screened for cancer was a good idea, and 49 per cent of people said they would want to be tested for cancer even if it was found to be incurable. In addition, 59 per cent said that refusing to participate in cancer screening was irresponsible.
Dr Jo Waller, the study's lead author, said: 'It's great that people are enthusiastic about cancer screening, and if people are keen to be screened, we need to minimise any barriers. But it's also important to remember that taking part in screening is an individual choice, and if someone decides that screening is not for them after considering the benefits and harms then that choice should be respected.'
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information, said: 'This research shows that people feel positive about screening for cancer. But it's vital that the benefits and harms of screening options are clearly explained to people, so they can make a fully informed choice.'