Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Minorities Less Prone to Think They'll Get Cancer: Study

But researchers say attitudes might not match actual risk

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FRIDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Black, Asian and Hispanic Americans are less likely than whites to believe they will get cancer, even though they are actually more likely to develop cancer and die from it, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that minority groups need to be given more culturally relevant information about cancer risk and prevention, said the researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Center.

They asked people their opinions about their risk of getting cancer, severity of cancer and the benefits of early cancer detection. The participants also were asked about their ability to prevent cancer and their understanding of cancer screening and detection.

"We found that blacks, Asians and Hispanics were all more likely to believe that they had a lower chance of getting cancer than did whites," study senior author B. Lee Green, senior member of the health outcomes and behavior program at Moffitt, said in a center news release.

"This is significant and surprising because statistics show that racial and ethnic minorities, especially blacks, have higher cancer mortality, incidence and prevalence rates than whites and also differ from whites in engaging in preventive behaviors," Green said.

The researchers also found that Hispanics were less likely than whites and blacks to believe they could take steps to reduce their risk of cancer. In addition, people in all racial and ethnic groups said it was difficult to know which cancer recommendations to follow, according to the study, which was published online recently in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

"There is a need for consistent cancer prevention messages and screening recommendations, as well as opportunities to increase education on cancer prevention among all populations," Green said. "These efforts will make individuals feel more empowered to participate in cancer-preventive behaviors."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer prevention.

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