Differences related to cancer screening by minority and rural/urban status in the deep south: population-based survey results

Academic Article


  • Objective: Cancer mortality in the U.S. Deep South exceeds national levels. A cross-sectional survey was undertaken across Alabama to discern cancer beliefs and screening practices, and compare data from racial/ethnic minority versus majority and rural versus urban respondents. Methods: Using population-based methods, we approached 5,633 Alabamians (ages 50-80) to complete a 58-item survey (administered in-person, via telephone, or the web). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize findings; two-tailed, chi-square and t-tests (α<0.05) were used to compare minority-majority and rural-urban subgroups. Results: The response rate was 15.2%; respondents identified as minority (n=356) or majority (n=486), and rural (n=671) or urban (n=183). Mean (SD) age was 63.7 (10.2) and >90% indicated stable housing, and healthcare coverage and access. Rural and minority versus urban and majority respondents were significantly more likely to have lower education, employment, and income, respectively. Most respondents equated cancer as a “death sentence” and were unable to identify the age at which cancer screening should begin. Few rural-urban subgroup differences were noted, though significant differences were observed between minority versus majority subgroups for mammography (36.7% versus 49.6%, p<.001) and colorectal cancer screening (34.5% vs. 47.9%, p<0.001). Furthermore, while minorities were significantly more likely to report ever having a colonoscopy (82.1% versus 76.1%, p=0.041) and to have received fecal occult blood testing within the past year (17.2% versus 12.2%, p=0.046), routine adherence to screening was <20% across all subgroups. Discussion: Cancer early detection education is needed across Alabama to improve cancer screening, and particularly needed among racial/ethnic minorities to raise cancer awareness.
  • Published In

  • Journal of Cancer  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Daniel C; Aly S; Bae S; Scarinci I; Hardy C; Fouad M; Demark-Wahnefried W
  • Start Page

  • 474
  • End Page

  • 481
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 2