More than nine in 10 people falsely believe that if a family member has had cancer, they have a greater than average chance of getting the disease themselves, a survey has found.
The poll of 1,000 people by charity Cancerbackup also found that a fifth of respondents mistakenly believed that around half of all cancers were hereditary. And 60% of people thought family history was the biggest risk factor, while just 15% were aware that it is in fact age.
The charity warned that people were often worrying unnecessarily about the risks of the disease running in their family. “Worrying about cancer can be very debilitating, and it is sad that people are not aware that very few cancers are caused by a known inherited genetic link,” said Dr Andrea Pithers, Cancerbackup’s genetic information manager.
The charity is running a campaign entitled What Now?, with the organisation Genes Reunited to highlight the issue.