Alzheimer's is the second-most feared disease after cancer and many people say they would seek testing for themselves or a loved one even if they did not have symptoms, U.S. and European researchers said on Wednesday.
The findings, presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris on Wednesday, reflect concern about the swelling ranks of people with the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer's now affects nearly 36 million people worldwide.
Recent studies suggest the disease starts developing at least a decade before symptoms appear and many scientists and patient advocates believe earlier testing will play an important role in getting people treated and in preparing families for the burden ahead.
The telephone survey of 2,678 adults aged 18 and older in the United States, France, Germany, Spain and Poland was conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Alzheimer Europe, with funding by Bayer AG, which is developing an imaging test for early signs of the disease.
It found that more than 85 percent of respondents said they would see a doctor if they had symptoms of confusion and memory loss. And more than 94 percent said they would want the same for a family member.
When asked to identify the most feared disease out of a list of seven that included cancer, heart disease and stroke, nearly a quarter of respondents from four of the five countries they most fear getting Alzheimer's.
Many in the survery said they know or have known someone with Alzheimer's, including 72 percent of those in France, 73 percent in Germany, 77 percent in Spain, 73 percent in the United States and 54 percent in Poland.