Background: Beliefs about cancer influence breast and colorectal cancer (CRC) screening behavior. Screening rates for these cancers differ in the contiguous neighborhoods of East Harlem (EH), Central Harlem (CH), and the Upper East Side (UES), which have distinct socio-demographic compositions. We assessed the belief-screening behavior relationship in these neighborhoods. Methods: The 2019 Community Cancer Needs Survey included adults eligible for breast and/or colorectal cancer screening. Raking was used to generate neighborhood-specific distribution estimates. Categorical variables were compared using Chi-square tests. Stepwise logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between cancer beliefs and screening. Results: Our weighted sample included 147,726 respondents. Screening was 75% in CH, 81% in EH, and 90% in the UES for breast cancer, and 71%, 76%, and 92% for CRC, respectively. The fatalistic belief “There’s not much you can do to lower your chances of getting cancer” differed by neighborhood with screening more likely in CH respondents (breast OR =1.45 and colorectal OR =1.11), but less likely in EH (OR= 0.77 and 0.37, respectively). UES ORs were not generated due to too few unscreened respondents. Conclusions: Cancer beliefs were inconsistently associated with breast and CRC screening across three NYC neighborhoods. This suggests that a given belief may either motivate or deter screening, depending upon context or interpretation. Once access is addressed, efforts seeking to enhance screening rates should consider implications of communities’ varying beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1072259
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - 27 Jan 2023


  • breast cancer
  • cancer screening
  • colorectal cancer
  • community outreach
  • social determinansts of health


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