People are more fearful of getting neurological disorders than cancer, a new poll suggests.
When people were asked what illness they feared getting the most, a total of 45% said neurological disorders such as Parkinson's or motor neurone disease, according to a poll commissioned by the Sue Ryder charity.
Meanwhile, the survey of 2,000 people across the UK found that 35% said they feared a cancer diagnosis above any other illness.
The charity said the main reasons people expressed fear over neurological disorders were; poor quality of life, loss of independence and the burden it might place on their family and loved ones.
People also raised concerns about becoming socially isolated if they were diagnosed with conditions such as dementia, Huntington's disease or multiple sclerosis.
The charity said that more must be done to educate the public about such conditions after many of those polled were unable to identify any signs or symptoms of many neurological conditions.
"We understand the public's fear of getting a neurological condition as some disorders can have such a major impact on someone's quality of life, independence and ability to communicate," said Sue Hogston, chief nurse at Sue Ryder.
"We also know that getting a life-limiting neurological disorder is not the end of the road, and quality care and treatment can really help people adapt and live life as fully as possible.
"Society's lack of awareness of conditions that affect the brain and nervous system is a big issue. So we wholeheartedly agree with the public's verdict that we need to educate people about the symptoms, treatment and care options of different disorders.
"This will go some way to helping people and their families cope and adapt if they're diagnosed. But it will also help reduce the stigma, embarrassment and social isolation that can exist around these conditions."
Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson's UK said: "It is heart-breaking to hear that so many people fear getting a neurological condition such as Parkinson's because of poor quality of life, a worry about loss of independence and the burden it might place on family and loved ones.
"With the baby boomer generation becoming older, the number of people with neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson's, is likely to increase and will become one of the biggest issues faced by healthcare."
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