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  1. Powe, Barbara D. PhD, RN
  2. Finnie, Ramona MPH, CHES
  3. Ko, Jean BS


Because of low rates of colorectal cancer screening among African Americans, it may be beneficial to begin educating persons about this disease before age 50. Using the Patient/Provider/System Theoretical Model for cancer screening, this study compared knowledge of colorectal cancer, sources of information, and awareness of programs among participants of age 20-29, 30-49, and 50-75 years. The majority (n = 354) were women and African American (mean age = 37 years, mean education = 12th grade). Younger participants tended to know less about the disease, but there were few differences in knowledge between the two older groups. Persons in the 40-49-year age group were more likely to be familiar with the role diet plays in the risk of colorectal cancer. Participants associated the need for screening with the presence of symptoms. Television and radio were listed as the most frequent source of information about cancer. The Internet was the least used. The majority were not familiar with selected national programs and services focused on increasing awareness of cancer. Findings suggest that colorectal cancer-related information should be targeted toward this population before age 50, using multiple sources such as TV/radio, providers, magazines, and cancer-related organizations.


An estimated 104,950 colon and 40,340 rectal cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2005 with an estimated 56,290 deaths from the disease (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2005). Despite a stabilization of colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence rates since the 1980s, African American males and females have higher incidence and mortality rates associated with this disease compared to Whites. The 5-year survival rate for CRC among African Americans improved to 54% during the years 1995-2000, but lagged well behind the 64% survival rate for Whites during the same time period. Screening and early detection of CRC followed by effective treatment is crucial to reducing these mortality rates.