(CNN) -- With more than 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease in the United States, a number that's expected to rise to 16 million by 2050, the pressure is on to find better methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Around the world, Alzheimer's disease is the second most feared disease, behind cancer, according to a recent survey of five countries conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health.
Yet there is still a lot of misinformation: Only 61% of Americans who responded to the survey correctly identified Alzheimer's disease as a fatal illness.
Many participants also mistakenly believe there are sure diagnostic methods and effective treatments to slow the disease, but most would seek medical attention if they became aware of their own early signs. The research that came out of the Alzheimer's Association 2011 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, which took place in Paris last week, reflects a growing emphasis on early detection.
Research suggests the best targets for exploring treatments are patients who do not have full-blown Alzheimer's disease, but experience mild symptoms. Scientists have identified biological indicators called biomarkers that seem to be associated with Alzheimer's, although they are not perfect predictors.
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