Use of 2001-2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to characterize cancer survivors in North Carolina

N C Med J. 2011 Jan-Feb;72(1):20-7.


Objective: We used Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data to examine demographic characteristics, health status, quality of life, and preventive health behaviors among adult cancer survivors in North Carolina.

Methods: We analyzed responses to state-added questions on cancer survivorship and to standard BRFSS questions concerning health status, quality of life, and health behaviors, including access of preventive services associated with cancer prevention and early detection, from the 2001 and 2002 North Carolina BRFSS.

Results: Cancer survivors were more likely than individuals with no self-reported history of cancer to be women (62.7% vs 51.3%), white (80.8% vs 70.3%), aged 65 years or older (48.7% vs 13.8%), and up to date with colorectal cancer screening (66.4% vs 52.4%); as likely to be current smokers (28.0% vs 26.2%); and more likely to report poor or fair health status (28.2% vs 17.2%). Cancer survivors reported lower quality of life, measured as the number of physically and mentally unhealthy days in the previous 30 days.

Limitations: This was a cross-sectional survey that relied on self-reported history of cancer, healthy behaviors, and use of preventive services.

Conclusions: Data from a statewide, population-based survey can be used to assess unmet needs of cancer survivors. Comprehensive cancer-control programs should be able to design interventions and monitor progress of state cancer-survivorship goals.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms*
  • North Carolina
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*