LIVESTRONG Anti-Stigma Campaigns

The LIVESTRONG Foundation has addressed the issue of stigma and silence associated with cancer by empowering cancer survivors and their families to share their cancer experiences with their communities. Since 2007, our goal with our anti-stigma campaigns has been to illustrate that cancer is not necessarily a “death sentence;” that it can be survivable with early detection and proper treatment; and that cancer survivors can lead healthy, productive lives during and after cancer. We hope to share the results of these campaigns so that others around the world can utilize some of the best practices and lessons learned from our work in their own similar efforts.

What is cancer stigma?
Cancer stigma refers to a negative or undesirable perception of a person affected by cancer. Stigma can be internal—it can affect self-perception of survivors, causing guilt, blame or shame. It can also be enacted, causing discrimination, loss of employment or income, or social isolation. It can come from misinformation, lack of awareness and deeply-engrained myths.

Why target cancer stigma?
In many societies and cultures, the stigma and mystery that surround cancer is so great that the word “cancer” is rarely used and the disease is not talked about openly. Stigma, fear, and silence around cancer are barriers that often affect a survivor’s cancer journey and quality of life. Forty-one percent of people interviewed stated that the fear of a diagnosis was the main challenge preventing them from receiving cancer screenings. Delaying or avoiding medical support often causes poorer prognoses and increased suffering and death.

Stigma doesn’t just affect individuals. It also plays a role at the national level. Governments are less likely to devote resources and funds to improve their cancer care system if the people affected by the disease don’t voice their needs and advocate for themselves.

How do the campaigns work?
The Foundation conducted anti-stigma campaigns in South Africa and Mexico in 2010–2012 to encourage both personal and public dialogue about cancer and to reduce the culture of fear around the disease. In each of these initial 18-month pilot programs, we launched media campaigns and conducted intensive community education and training efforts, empowering cancer survivors to speak out about their experiences and share their cancer stories. Each campaign was created with guidance and partnership of local stakeholders to be culturally relevant and sustainable

What impact did the campaigns have?
The anti-stigma campaigns empowered cancer survivors to share their stories, educated communities, reached hundreds of millions of people with inspiring messages and changed perceptions about cancer. See the videos on this page to learn more about our results.

Where can I get more information if I am interested in launching a similar campaign?
The LIVESTRONG Foundation is working to publish our results on these campaigns, and we hope to have published results available by 2015.


  • Delivering Hope


Cancer Stigma and Silence Around the World: A LIVESTRONG Report, is the result of a global research study executed by the Foundation in 2007 and focuses on the challenges and opportunities presented by the stigma of cancer around the world.

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  • South Africa PSA
    Comparte tu Historia: Adair Chavez
  • Comparte tu Historia: Veronica Gascon
    Comparte tu Historia: Adair Chavez
  • Comparte tu Historia: Veronica Gascon
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