Beliefs About Lung Cancer Differ Along Racial Lines

Study finds African-Americans more likely to hold beliefs that could impede prevention, treatment
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- Although African-Americans and Caucasians have many similar beliefs about lung cancer, African-Americans are more likely to report beliefs that could be detrimental to the prevention and treatment of the disease, according to research published online Feb. 22 in Cancer.

Christopher S. Lathan, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey, and conducted interviews with 5,491 adults, of whom 1,872 completed questionnaires relating to lung cancer.

The researchers analyzed data from the lung cancer survey subset to identify racial differences in the perception of lung cancer and found that many beliefs about lung-cancer mortality and etiology were shared by African-American and Caucasian respondents. However, African-Americans were more likely to agree that it is difficult to follow lung cancer prevention recommendations (odds ratio, 2.05), to avoid being checked for signs of lung cancer out of fear that they may have the disease (odds ratio, 3.32), and to believe that lung cancer was likely to cause pain or other symptoms prior to diagnosis (odds ratio, 2.20), the investigators discovered.

"The idea that some are confused by the lung cancer prevention messages is surprising," the authors write. "Further efforts should involve discussion of the role of lung cancer in all communities, including communities of color, and addressing the knowledge gap."

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