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Qual Health Res. 2009 Nov;19(11):1559-68. doi: 10.1177/1049732309349359. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Perspectives of colorectal cancer risk and screening among Dominicans and Puerto Ricans: stigma and misperceptions.

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  • 1Brown University, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA.


Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer among Latinos, but a lower percentage of Latinos are screened than Whites and Blacks. Along with recognized economic barriers, differences in knowledge and perceptions might impede colorectal screening among Latinos. We conducted 147 individual, qualitative interviews with Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in the northeastern United States to explore their explanatory models for colorectal cancer and screening barriers. Many participants had not previously heard of colorectal cancer. The most commonly mentioned cause of colorectal cancer was anal sex. Also considered risks were "bad food," digestion leading to constipation, and strained bowel movements. Screening barriers included stigma, misperceptions, embarrassment, and machismo. Progress toward increasing colorectal cancer screening requires normalization of this screening among Latinos. Higher patient familiarity, along with improved physician counseling and referral, might contribute to reducing stigma and other barriers, and to enhancing knowledge and Latino community support of colorectal cancer screening.

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