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Perception of Brazilian adolescents about cancer prevention

Cardoso Eduardo Blanco

Abstract: Cancer, as a disease, has found a place in the social imaginary. Individuals construct ideas based on pre-established discourses—be they medical, media, or popular—which often hinder its prevention. Educational interventions have tended to focus on spreading information about the disease, ignoring its social connotations. The objective of the present study is to investigate the concept of cancer prevention in 980 adolescents, aged between 12 and 18 years, attending primary and secondary school in three public schools and one private school in the metropolitan region of São Paulo and the municipality of Dom Viçoso, Minas Gerais. The notion of prevention implies the dominant feeling of performing medical examinations from a symptom, against the idea of preventing, even when there is no clinical manifestation of the body. The majority of students emphasize the advantages of early diagnosis and that the decisive factor for the cure corresponds to the moment of detection: "cancer must be discovered in time". This is a solid belief within the body of knowledge about the disease that can be used as a starting point in prevention messages. However, even when the importance of early detection of cancer is understood as an essential element for its cure, care practices do not accompany the set of principles that regulate prevention or its demands.
Keywords: cancer prevention / detection / social / public schools / disease / medical examinations / Brazilian adolescents

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