Lower Reporting of Family Cancer History Could Affect Cancer Screening, Prevention Among U.S. Immigrants, Report Says
Immigrants to the U.S. were about one-third less likely to report a family history of cancer than those born in the U.S., according to an analysis of 5,010 people who responded to the 2005 Health Information Trends Survey, HealthDay/Washington Post reports. The report -- by Heather Orom of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and colleagues and published in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Cancer -- prompted concern that the lower reporting rates might mean immigrants face inadequate cancer screening and prevention.
According to the report, even as immigrants became more integrated into U.S. culture, their reporting of their family cancer history did not change. Researchers said that immigrants might not have easy access to family health history or might be in a culture not accustomed to openly discussing health issues such as cancer.
Researchers said that "some immigrants might not have a family history of cancer even though they have a genetic predisposition for cancer, in part, because they are from countries in which people are more likely to die at a relatively young age of causes other than cancer and are not exposed to the same degree of behavioral and environmental risk for the disease."
They added, "In addition, due to underdiagnosis of cancer in many immigrants' countries of origin, lack of awareness of familial risk and communication barriers in families, foreign-born patients may not be aware of their true family history of cancer" (HealthDay/Washington Post, 12/10).
An abstract of the study is available online.