Public Perception of Cancer Survival Rankings

Jakob D. Jensen, Courtney L. Scherr, Natasha Brown, Christina Jones, Katheryn Christy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Past research has observed that certain subgroups (e.g., individuals who are overweight/obese) have inaccurate estimates of survival rates for particular cancers (e.g., colon cancer). However, no study has examined whether the lay public can accurately rank cancer survival rates in comparison with one another (i.e., rank cancers from most deadly to least deadly). A sample of 400 Indiana adults aged 18 to 89 years (M = 33.88 years) completed a survey with questions regarding perceived cancer survival rates. Most cancers were ranked accurately; however, breast and stomach cancer survival rankings were highly distorted such that breast cancer was perceived to be significantly more deadly and stomach cancer significantly less deadly than reality. Younger participants also overestimated the survival rate for pancreatic cancer. These distortions mirror past content analytic work demonstrating that breast, stomach, and pancreatic cancers are misrepresented in the news.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-729
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • cancer
  • distortion
  • survival rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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