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We have varying experiences with Appalachia, yet we all agree that there is a unique relationship between Appalachians and cancer. Two of us are nurses who have worked with various communities. Two of us grew up here; 1 watched several of her relatives battle cancer in their Appalachian homes. All of us are scholars who want to talk with practitioners and researchers who are developing culturally tailored cancer control interventions. This goal to have a dialogue emerged after we had a series of discussions about cancer in Appalachia, discussions resulting in our developing a list of cultural traits that seem to be related to this region’s high cancer morbidity and morality (Table). For example, in one of our previous publications we describe the association between the traditional Appalachian oral culture and the cancer experience, finding that cancer stories appeared to pass from 1 generation to the next (1). In turn, these stories seem to affect some community members' willingness to be screened. Our essay's purpose is not to justify the elements presented in the Table. Rather, we write to consider the following: What are the advantages and disadvantages of making generalizations about a culture that has already been marginalized by overgeneralizations?


This document was originally published by the United States Government in Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy.

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