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Blacks have highest cancer rates of all racial ethnicities, yet feel less at risk, study finds
Date:3/15/2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Mammograms, pap smears and early detection tests for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and other malignancies are critical for catching cancer before it becomes deadly.

However, a new study by University at Buffalo researchers shows that persons of different ethnic groups have different ideas and opinions about whether they are at risk for developing cancer -- perceptions that can influence whether they undergo screening.

The study results reveal that blacks feel less at risk of getting cancer than do whites -- the comparison group in the study -- although they have the highest cancer incidence and mortality of all racial/ethnic groups.

Hispanics and Asians also believed they were at a lower risk than whites, results show, and the differences remained in all groups even when variables such as age and education are considered.

The study appears in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/search?fulltext=orom&submit=yes

"Our level of perceived cancer risk can affect our health and longevity," says Heather Orom, PhD, assistant professor in the UB Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, and first author on the study.

"Believing that we could develop cancer in our lifetime can motivate us to undergo tests, such as colonoscopy or mammogram to detect cancer early. This knowledge also may motivate us to engage in behavior such as exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables that can reduce our chances of getting the disease.

"In order to reach all racial and ethnic groups successfully about the importance of cancer screening," she continues, "we need to know their perceptions of being at risk for cancer, why and how those perceptions differ and which are most important for influencing behavior across groups. This information is cruci
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-4606
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

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