Lung Cancer: What Blacks Don’t Know (But Should)

older African American man serious expressionHow much do you know about lung cancer? According to a recent survey, you may know less than you thought. The study shows that many patients, African Americans in particular, don’t know enough about this serious disease.

According to Christopher S. Lathan, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues reported online in Cancer, significantly fewer African Americans than Caucasians thought lung cancer is caused by behavior or lifestyle and significantly more expected symptoms prior to diagnosis.

“Given the presentation of lung cancer, these beliefs could have an effect on prevention messages, seeking appropriate medical care for symptoms, and the physician-patient interaction with regard to seeking and accepting treatment,” the researchers wrote.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with only 15% of patients surviving five years after their initial diagnosis. Further, lung cancer is much more prevalent among African Americans than the general population.

According to a recent study, each year 73 out of 100,000 African Americans get lung cancer, compared with 54 out of 100,000 Caucasians. In addition, blacks develop the disease at a much younger age than their white counterparts. Black men ages 40 to 54 are two to four times more likely to develop lung cancer than white men. Further, blacks have the highest incidence of and mortality from the disease, but are less likely to receive treatment.