People are as Scared of Alzheimer’s as Cancer

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According to a new international survey, many people consider Alzheimer’s disease as big of a health threat as they do cancer.

The study, conducted in France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the U.S. indicates that Alzheimer’s incurable effects and humungous impact on friends, family and associates make it a particularly frightening illness for all involved.

"What we have here are pretty surprising findings," said study co-author Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "First, we found that there is an extraordinarily high level of willingness for people who have symptoms of confusion or memory loss to go in for some kind of an assessment. And previous surveys had not always showed such a high level of interest in that," he said.

"And then we also found that many believe there is an effective medical or pharmaceutical treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer's. And also that a very substantial proportion of people are convinced that there are reliable medical tests available to give them a sense of where they're at," he added.

"No one had really asked about those two points before," Blendon explained. "So this indication of the optimism people seem to have about what can be done in terms of testing and slowing progression are really new, and very different from what most in the medical community would have expected to find.

"What these findings suggest," said Blendon, "is that if we're going to run public health campaigns to encourage people to go in for assessments, we are also, at the same time, going to have to make sure that physicians are adequately prepared to discuss the facts with their patients, so that they have a realistic sense of what can and cannot currently be done with respect to Alzheimer's."

 
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