Journal of Undergraduate Research


family cancer history, spousal influence, younger population, cancer


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, yet many people are not aware of their own personal familial risk. This may be especially true in younger individuals in the population. According to the American Cancer Society, over 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and over 500,000 cancer deaths will occur this year. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths. Survival rates vary by type and stage at diagnosis but early detection through screening improves survival odds and healthier behaviors may reduce risk. Additionally, many lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, sun exposure, alcohol use, smoking, and drug avoidance can influence the likelihood of cancer. Personal knowledge of cancer family history can aid an individual in making healthy lifestyle choices. This study is an investigation of the relative accuracy of family cancer history knowledge in a pre-screening population (younger than 35). We determined whether participant’s knowledge of their personal family cancer history is accurate in comparison with reports from other family members. Younger individuals may not be aware of their own family cancer history and thus may not be aware of the need to alter lifestyle behaviors and increase cancer screening behavior in order to decrease cancer risk. We examined whether family cancer history (and therefore personal cancer risk factors) is associated with screening and lifestyle behaviors. We also examined the individual’s perceptions of their spouse’s influence on the participant’s lifestyle behavior and if there is an association between perceptions of spousal influence and relationship quality. Previous research indicates this may be the case, however, less is known regarding relationship quality, spousal influence and cancer-preventative behavior.

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