Beliefs and Perceptions about Cancers among Patients Attending Radiotherapy OPD in Delhi, India


The prevalence of beliefs and myths amongst cancer patients is a reflection of the level of knowledge in thecommunity regarding cancer. Such beliefs influence the health seeking behaviour of patients and may lead todelay in seeking medical care. The present study revealed that myths and misconceptions are widely prevalentamong cancer patients in India. The perception regarding causation of cancer among cancer patients variedfrom curses, evil eye and spirits to past sins. Only one third of the patients believed that cancer can be detectedin its early stages and that it can be cured. The average time taken by patients to report to a doctor aftersuspecting their disease was 2 years. The majority of patients held fatalistic views about the outcome of cancer.Most (60%) were being discriminated against by their family and society. All these findings highlight that despiteconsiderable medical knowledge of risk factors and treatment modalities, possible social-behavioral strategiesfor the prevention and control of cancer have not been adequately addressed, especially among South Asianpatients.