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Race may affect attitudes toward lung cancer

February 22, 2010 |  3:02 pm

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the U.S., but misperceptions about the disease abound. Those misperceptions may be different among races, however, according to a new study.

KvlezmncPublished online Monday in the journal Cancer, the study used data from the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey, in which people were asked about their knowledge and attitudes about lung cancer. There were 1,530 men and women included in the study.

The majority of all participants believed lung cancer was preventable, that behavior or lifestyle was the cause, and that lung cancer screening could prove beneficial.

However, there were differences between races on some topics. More black participants than white participants--53% versus 37%--were apt to agree that there were too many recommendations for avoiding lung cancer. More blacks than whites (22% versus 9%) were likely to be hesitant about undergoing a lung cancer check, and more blacks than whites (51% versus 32%) were prone to anticipate symptoms before being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The responses, say the authors, could influence a number of factors relating to lung cancer, such as presenting public messages about preventing the disease, getting medical care, and the relationship between patient and doctor for treatment. In the paper, they wrote: "If patients doubt the link between smoking and lung cancer, then this may translate into difficulty with smoking cessation. If patients are reluctant to go the physician for fear of diagnosing the disease, then this could lead to difficulty in accepting care for the disease."

They also note that although lung cancer prognosis is often poor, early stage lung cancer can be curable.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Gerry Broome / AP