Knowledge and beliefs about cancer in a socioeconomically disadvantaged population

Patrick J. Loehrer, Heidi A. Greger, Morris Weinberger, Beverly Musick, Michael Miller, Craig Nichols, John Bryan, Debra Higgs, Debra Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Scopus citations


Americans living in poverty experience a higher incidence of and greater mortality from cancer than the nonpoor. At least 50% of the difference in mortality is believed to be due to delay in diagnosis, although risk- promoting lifestyles and behaviors also contribute to decreased survival. A potential exacerbating factor among the poor is inadequate information and knowledge about cancer and its treatment. Interviews were conducted with 128 cancer patients from a socioeconomically disadvantaged population to assess knowledge of cancer and its treatment and to evaluate care-seeking behaviors. Results indicated that although patients relied primarily on their physicians for information about their disease and treatment, a number of misconceptions regarding cancer existed in this population. Notably, nearly 50% of the patients surveyed either denied or did not know that smoking was related to the development of cancer. Additionally, patients frequently reported inappropriate care-seeking behaviors when asked to respond to a series of common disease-related signs or symptoms. These findings suggest that misinformation and misconceptions regarding cancer and its treatment among patients in this sample may contribute to inappropriate care-seeking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1665-1671
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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    Loehrer, P. J., Greger, H. A., Weinberger, M., Musick, B., Miller, M., Nichols, C., Bryan, J., Higgs, D., & Brock, D. (1991). Knowledge and beliefs about cancer in a socioeconomically disadvantaged population. Cancer, 68(7), 1665-1671.<1665::AID-CNCR2820680734>3.0.CO;2-3