Publication Abstract

Authors: Breslow RA, Sorkin JD, Frey CM, Kessler LG

Title: Americans' knowledge of cancer risk and survival.

Journal: Prev Med 26(2):170-7

Date: 1997 Mar-Apr

Abstract: BACKGROUND: There are more than 500,000 deaths from cancer each year in the United States. This study examines Americans' knowledge of risk factors for breast, cervical, colon, and prostate cancers, which account for over 130,000 of these deaths, and their knowledge of the prospects of surviving these cancers following early detection. METHODS: Data were obtained from 12,035 subjects who completed the 1992 National Health Interview Survey Cancer Control Supplement which includes questions about cancer risk factors and survival. RESULTS: The majority of respondents were unable to identify major cancer risk factors when prompted with a list. Approximately two-thirds did not recognize that age increased the risk for breast and colon cancer, that diet increased the risk for colon cancer, or that multiple sex partners increased the risk for cervical cancer. Knowledge about survival was also poor. Only about half thought they had a good chance of survival following early detection of colon and cervical cancers, for which 5-year relative survival exceeds 90%. CONCLUSIONS: Americans lack knowledge about major risk factors for common cancers and about the prospects of survival following early detection. Knowledge about risk factors and about survival from cervical and colon cancers was poor at all ages, among all races, at all income levels, and at all educational levels. It was poorest among blacks and Hispanics and among those with the lowest income and least education. Americans need education about cancer risk factors and survival.