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Cancer. 2008 Oct 15;113(8):2180-7. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23801.

Perceived family history risk and symptomatic diagnosis of prostate cancer: the North Carolina Prostate Cancer Outcomes study.

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  • 1Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27709-2194, USA.



Prostate cancer (PrCA) is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among US men. African American (AA) men remain at significantly greater risk of PrCA diagnosis and mortality than other men. Many factors contribute to the experienced disparities.


Guided by the Health Belief Model, the authors surveyed a population of AA and Caucasian men newly diagnosed with PrCA to describe racial differences in perceived risk of PrCA and to examine whether 1) perceived high risk predicts greater personal responsibility for prostate care; and 2) greater personal responsibility for prostate care predicts earlier, presymptomatic diagnosis. Multivariate general linear modeling was performed.


The authors found that men with a PrCA family history appreciated their increased risk, but AA men with a family history were less likely to appreciate their increased risk. Nevertheless, neither reporting a PrCA family history nor perceived increased risk significantly predicted screening and preventive behaviors. Furthermore, higher physician trust predicted increased likelihood to have regular prostate exams and screening, indicating that the racial differences in seeking prostate care may be mediated through physician trust. Expressed personal responsibility for screening and more frequent preventive behaviors were associated with more frequent screening diagnoses, fewer symptomatic diagnoses, and less frequent advanced cancers.


Together, these results indicate that appreciating greater risk for PrCA is not sufficient to ensure that men will intend, or be able, to act. Increased trust in physicians may be a useful, central marker that efforts to reduce disparities in access to medical care are succeeding.

(c) 2008 American Cancer Society.

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