Cancer fatalism: Attitudes toward screening and care

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Cancer fatalism is the perception that contracting cancer is a matter of God's will, fate or chance and beyond an individual's control and that it is a certain death sentence. This chapter critically reviews studies on various aspects of cancer fatalism: its prevalence in different population groups, correlates of fatalism with socio-demographic variables, its hindering screening, and its delaying diagnosis. Fatalistic beliefs in cancer patients and its effects on coping and adjustment are also addressed, together with the relatively new concept of genetic fatalism. Cancer fatalism is widespread in Western countries, especially-but not solely-in individuals from more traditional ethnic groups. It has often been reported as related to less healthy lifestyles, and to lower rates of attending screenings for breast cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer. Few studies have examined fatalism in cancer patients, and generally it was found that while many believed that cancer was a matter of fate or genetics, they mostly denied the fatalistic view of cancer as certain death. However, mixed results have been obtained in studies comparing the range and intensity of fatalistic beliefs in individuals from different ethnic groups and their effects, once demographic variables were controlled for.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychological Aspects of Cancer
Subtitle of host publicationA Guide to Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Cancer, Their Causes and Their Management
EditorsB. Carr, J. Steel
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781461448662
ISBN (Print)1461448654, 9781461448655
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. All rights are reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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