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Nat Rev Cancer. 2011 Feb;11(2):142-50. doi: 10.1038/nrc2999.

Cancer-related direct-to-consumer advertising: a critical review.

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  • 1Lung Cancer Disparities Center, Harvard University, School of Public Health Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Boston MA 02215, USA.


The direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) phenomenon has received attention because of its attempt to reach out to consumers by bypassing important gatekeepers such as physicians. The emergence of new information platforms and the introduction of genetic tests directly to the consumer have heightened the concern with DTCA and its potential consequences. These effects of DTCA are particularly important given the communication inequalities among social groups, with class, race and ethnicity influencing how people access, seek, process and act on information. This Science and Society article reviews the major issues regarding general and cancer-related DTCA and also offers data from a national survey in the United States as an example of the communication inequalities in genetic testing awareness.

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