A study led by UF Health Cancer Center researchers found that Black and Hispanic adults had less knowledge and were less likely to undergo cancer genetic testing than white adults.
The team, led by Young-Rock Hong, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of health services research, management and policy in the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, analyzed data from 3,551 people in the 2020 Health Information National Trends Survey. The researchers compared self-reported cancer genetic testing knowledge and use by race and ethnicity. They also looked at the perceived importance of genetic information for cancer care, such as prevention, detection and treatment, in relation to the uptake of cancer genetic testing.
Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black respondents were more likely to perceive that genetic information was highly important than non-Hispanic whites, but they had a lower predicted probability of cancer genetic testing. The study was published in January in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.
“Our study highlights a concerning disparity in cancer genetic testing among Black and Hispanic adults,” said Young-Rock, a member of the Cancer Center’s Cancer Control & Population Sciences research program. “While these groups perceive the importance of genetic information for cancer care, they are less likely to undergo testing compared to white adults. These findings suggest the need for more targeted public health messaging and culturally tailored patient educational interventions for racial and ethnic minority populations.”
Genetic testing can help determine patients’ risk of many cancers and guide cancer prevention and treatment plans. The authors concluded that further research is needed on sources of genetic testing information for racial and ethnic minorities and the barriers to accessing genetic testing. That information could help create effective strategies to promote cancer risk genetic testing.
The study was funded by a UF Health Cancer Center pilot grant, a program that receives crucial support from the state of Florida through the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Act (Fla. Stat. § 381.915). Other co-authors from the Cancer Center were Jiang Bian, Ph.D., professor in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics in the UF College of Medicine and chief data scientist at UF Health; Thomas George, M.D., FACP, a professor in the division of hematology and oncology in the department of medicine in the UF College of Medicine and associate director for clinical research at the Cancer Center; and Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., a professor of surgery and epidemiology in the UF College of Medicine and College of Public Health and Health Professions and associate director for population sciences at the UF Health Cancer Center.