ASCO CEO Discusses Striking Findings from National Cancer Opinion Survey

November 12, 2018

In the latest ASCO in Action Podcast, ASCO CEO Dr. Clifford A. Hudis reviews the results of ASCO’s 2018 National Cancer Opinion survey, which examined the views held by Americans on a wide range of cancer-related issues.

Conducted annually in collaboration with the Harris Poll, ASCO surveyed nearly 5,000 U.S. adults, including about 1,000 individuals who currently have or have had cancer. The society plans to use the survey results to inform its future education, policy, and advocacy efforts.

One of the most striking and concerning findings from this year’s survey, notes Dr. Hudis, is that nearly 4 in 10 Americans believe that cancer can be cured solely through alternative therapies (including acupuncture, diet, enzyme therapy, massage, medical marijuana, meditation, vitamins, herbs, and other supplements). While an alarming number of individuals believes that these therapies alone can cure cancer, Dr. Hudis points out that the evidence shows the opposite. “Research has shown that the sole use of alternative therapies for cancer is actually associated with a much higher mortality rate when compared against patients treated with standard evidence-based approaches,” he says.

Dr. Hudis also notes that this finding provides ASCO with a great opportunity and obligation to help the public understand the real limits and the reality of scientifically valid evidence-based treatments. “We can not ignore this widespread belief,” he says.

The survey also explored what Americans are thinking in relation to the use of opioids to manage cancer-related pain. Nearly 75% percent of Americans do not agree with limiting access to opioids for people with cancer, while 40% of survey respondents who have used opioids to manage cancer-related pain or other symptoms in the past year had trouble accessing opioid medication.

The use of medical marijuana and the financial burden of cancer care treatment are also examined by ASCO’s National Cancer Opinion Survey. To learn more, listen to the 12-minute ASCO in Action podcast here. You can also subscribe to the podcast through iTunes and Google Play