Bayer survey reveals deep-seated fears of Americans around cancer as pharma looks to plug education gap

Bayer has tapped the Harris Poll for a new survey on how Americans feel about finding out if they have cancer, and the results have revealed a worrying trend.

The poll, undertaken in early June for just over 2,000 U.S. adults, showed that one in four American adults would rather not know they have cancer (27%), while just under a third (31%) avoid doctor visits “due to fear of what they might learn,” according to a release.

Germany-based Bayer, which markets several cancer products, including prostate cancer therapy Nubeqa and its pipeline work in cell and gene therapies, also found that many American adults “site lack of knowledge about key physical health topics.” This, Bayer reckons, shows the industry needs to up the ante when it comes to education on disease risks. The survey found that 49% of respondents were unaware of the link between prostate cancer and a man's race.

A similar trend emerged for breast cancer, a condition for which Bayer sells diagnostics, with 38% lacking knowledge about breast cancer and 48% unaware of the impact of breast density on cancer risk and diagnosis.

Bayer has ongoing awareness and education campaigns about cancer, partnering with organizations like Zero Prostate Cancer, Target Cancer Foundation and Prostate Cancer Foundation. The company aims to expand its efforts, stating that this study is intended to identify patient behaviors, barriers and medical gaps. Bayer plans to address these issues through awareness, education, advocacy and innovation.

It will also, of course, help bolster Bayer’s own oncology sales ambitions, as it looks to make $10 billion by the decade’s end from its cancer business and continue to build on its recent cancer biotech deals and pacts.

“The increase of fear and anxiety, heightened by a lack of education and in some cases trust barriers, creates an environment where people may not access basic preventative care to ensure early diagnosis,” said Sebastian Guth, president, Bayer U.S. and pharmaceuticals, North America, in a release.

“This is compounded by the fact that around 27.4 million people of all ages (8.3%) don’t have access to health insurance. Companies like Bayer have a responsibility to provide resources that increase health education on the importance of understanding disease risks, early disease screenings and preventative health care.”