Background: Individuals' beliefs about cancer heritability could affect their health information seeking and health behaviors.
Methods: Data from 5813 English-speaking adult respondents to the 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey were analyzed.
Results: Individuals who believed that knowledge of family history or genes can reduce cancer risk were significantly more likely to have ever looked for cancer information. Ever smokers who believed that genes are the main cause of lung cancer were significantly more likely to smoke currently.
Conclusions: Patients need to be educated about genetic susceptibility to cancer in ways that support information seeking and engagement in protective behaviors.