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Global survey highlights need for more cancer prevention campaigns in Australia and New Zealand

Wednesday 4 February, 2009

Geneva: Switzerland 

People in Australia and New Zealand most at risk from some cancers will often downplay their own risk, a global survey today highlighted.

2,130 people from this region were surveyed in 2008 as part of a global survey by Roy Morgan research and Gallup International on behalf of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC).

The global survey titled ‘Cancer Related Beliefs and Behaviour' involved interviewing over  45, 000 people in 39 countries across the globe during 2008. It is the first study to provide internationally comparable data on perceptions and behaviours about cancer risk factors.

The UICC today released, as part of World Cancer Day, the data from eight United Nations regions across the world covering North West Europe, South East Europe, Africa, Latin America, North America, Australia and New Zealand, South East Asia and West Asia.

Key results for this region show that most people who drink alcohol frequently and also smoke, do not appear to realise that this substantially increases their risk of getting cancer.

"This is a real concern since the consumption of alcohol and tobacco multiply the risks of certain cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract, such as the larynx, oropharynx and oesophagus," Professor David Hill, President of UICC and also Director of Cancer Council Victoria said.

"In Australia and New Zealand, where people tend to consume alcohol in high frequency, over 40% of people said they believed alcohol did not increase their risk of cancer. Because alcohol is associated with a number of cancers we need to change people's attitudes towards alcohol and make them aware of the risks of frequent drinking.

"On an international front one of the most striking differences is this survey is the level of cancer screening across the different regions.  In North America, Australia and New Zealand nearly 60% of people have had some sort of cancer screening test in their lifetime. It's a little lower in Europe and Latin America, but in Western Asia only 12% have had a screening test.

"In Africa 10% have had a screening test and in Southern and Eastern Asia just 9% have had a screening test in their lifetime. Since cancer screening plays a very important role in the early detection of many cancers, this finding is a concern because it means that people are being diagnosed with cancer at a much later stage in Asian and African regions.

"Globally, there are vast opportunities to improve cancer control through public education about the avoidance of risk factors and earlier diagnosis," he said.

Professor Hill said the UICC would use the data to push a worldwide agenda to ensure people had more accurate knowledge of cancer as a basis for making cancer control programmes as effective as they can be.

Notes to editors: The full report can be located at  

  • Africa region: Four countries: Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. 7,541 people surveyed.
  • Northern and Western Europe: Six countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 5,873 people surveyed.
  • Southern and Eastern Europe: Eight countries: Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Spain and Ukraine. 7,057 people surveyed.
  • Australia and New Zealand. 2,130 people surveyed.
  • Western Asia:  Four countries Georgia, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. 4,511 people surveyed.
  • Southern and Eastern Asia: Five countries: China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. 5,160 people surveyed.
  • Latin America: Eight countries:  Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. 6,058 people surveyed.
  • North America: Two countries: Canada and the United States of America. 1,-925 people surveyed.

The International Union Against Cancer (UICC): UICC is the leading global non-governmental organisation devoted exclusively to cancer prevention, treatment and care, with member organisations in 100 countries. More information can be located at

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