Nav: Home

New study examines ways to improve cancer literacy in young students

February 10, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 10, 2020) - A new study led by University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center researchers suggests that implementing cancer education curricula in middle and high schools may improve cancer literacy in Kentuckians and ultimately help reduce cancer rates.

The study, published in the Journal of Cancer Education, included 349 middle and high school students in Kentucky. Students were given a baseline test to determine their cancer literacy, followed by a cancer education presentation. Following the presentation, students were tested again. Results showed that the scores for all individual items increased after the intervention, and the average test scores improved by 30%.

The low levels of cancer literacy pre-intervention weren't too surprising, according to Nathan Vanderford, assistant director for research at Markey and director of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program. Having grown up in rural Tennessee, Vanderford recalls that his early educational experiences didn't include much information on the topic.

"Thinking back on my own pre-college education, I do not recall learning in-depth about cancer in school," Vanderford said. "From that perspective, the lower levels of cancer knowledge these students displayed at baseline are not too surprising. At the same time, given the increased information age we live in, there was some thought that perhaps students' baseline levels would be higher."

Kentucky is home to the highest overall rates of cancer incidence and death in the country. In the Appalachian region of the state, this problem is even more pronounced. Among many other factors, the lack of health literacy plays a part in the state's poor health. Research shows that people with inadequate health literacy are less likely to participate in preventive measures (such as cancer screenings, one of the best ways to reduce cancer rates) and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Based on their study, Vanderford notes that implementing cancer education into the existing curriculum for middle and high school students could pay off in the long run by encouraging change in many behaviors that lead to higher cancer rates.

"Youth represent a vulnerable population that is at risk for beginning behaviors - like smoking - that increase cancer risk," Vanderford said. "At the same time, this is a malleable group that may be more positively influenced by cancer prevention and control strategies. Our results highlight opportunities we have to provide cancer education material to students in a way that will greatly affect their cancer knowledge, which could result in lowering cancer risks through increased cancer prevention/control behaviors."
-end-
This study was supported by UK's ACTION Program and the Cancer Center Support Grant both funded by the National Cancer Institute. Lauren Hudson, a UK undergraduate student who is first author of the study, was supported by a summer research fellowship funded by the UK Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

University of Kentucky

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.