“The language that is used when speaking with a patient is probably one of the most important things about being diagnosed – and that language, I think, has to change.”
Leanne Pero, ex-dance teacher, entrepreneur and author who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.
In a world where about half of us will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in our lives1, the words we use to talk about it matter.
Through an exploratory survey of people living and working with cancer in the US and UK, we found two thirds of people living with cancer (67% of 1,871 patients), and almost all health care professionals (88% of 142 HCPs), believed that language impacts their lives, or the lives of those living with the disease.2
While this is a snapshot of just two countries, it suggests people have strong likes and dislikes about specific words and phrases used to describe cancer. Our survey also discovered people feel certain words can even affect the way they choose treatment – suggesting the way we talk about the disease could be acting as a barrier to cancer care for some people.
That’s why Novartis, together with a group of experts – and through a survey of over 2 000 people living and working with cancer – is exploring how the use of language affects people living with cancer to initiate discussions around the importance certain words hold when talking about the disease.
We invite you to explore it with us.