Study: Oral cancer campaign increases awareness among black men

A campaign to increase awareness of oral cancer among black men resulted in more screenings for the disease in Florida's poorest counties, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health (May 14, 2015).

In the U.S., black men have the lowest survival rates of mouth and throat cancer, according to University of Florida (UF) researchers. The five-year oral cancer survival rate for black men decreased from 49% to 36% between 2004 and 2006, the study authors reported. This compares unfavorably with the five-year survival rates for white men (67%) and black women (60%).

"Black men are more likely to be diagnosed at the later stages of mouth and throat cancer, when it is most devastating and costly," stated Yi Guo, PhD, an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine's department of health outcomes and policy, in a press release. "We aimed to reverse this health inequity by ensuring more black men are aware of the dangers of mouth and throat cancer, because this cancer is preventable. People need to get screened."

To address the issue, UF health researchers created a five-month media campaign targeted at black men in the state's poorest counties. The campaign featured posters and handheld fan designs, car magnets, and a brochure. The number of first-time oral cancer screenings in the area increased by 13% after the campaign, the study authors reported.

"By tailoring messages about the disease and its consequences to that population, we have managed to convince them that this disease can affect them and that they should take action, which is a powerful first step in reversing the downward trend in this vulnerable population's survival rates," stated Henrietta Logan, PhD, retired professor in the UF College of Dentistry Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, in the release.

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