Background: Cancer beliefs and behaviors have similarities and differences in different countries. Having a successful implementation of cancer control plan require the better understanding the beliefs and behaviors in a community.
Aim: To investigate the cancer related beliefs and behaviors in Turkey.
Methods: A face to face survey was conducted among 1234 people representing the different socioeconomic groups at 15-65 years of age from 15 different districts during january-february 2014. Study population was selected by multistep, semi-random sampling method. Beliefs regarding the magnitude of cancer, etiology, treatability, risk behaviors, screening practices were asked in addition to personal characteristics. The results were compared with global facts.
Results: Fifty-three percent of the population described the cancer as the number one health problem. People believed that the main contributing factors to cancer development; smoking 97%, alcohol 93%, stress 90%, infectious causes 89%, sun exposure 87%, mobile phone 84%, obesity 70%, fatty diet 68%, limited vegetable intake 65%, limited fruit intake 63%, limited grain intake 60%, limited exercise 58%. Smoking rate was 41%. 51% was not aware of sun and cancer connection. The percentage exercising more than 3 times/week was only 14%. 32% among women >40 years of age had mammography and 30.5% (among >18 years) had pap smear. Screening rate was 2.5% for prostate was and 6% for colorectal cancers (for those >50 years of age). 21% believe that they will die if they get cancer, 40% was not sure. 76% said that cancer is treatable. 57% said that the doctor must decide to the treatment, 36% said that they have to participate in the decision making with physician.
Conclusions: A successful implementation of cancer control plans require more focus on beliefs and behavior. Stigma associated with cancer and damaging myths and misconceptions must be targeted as stated by WCD 2013.