the effectiveness of interventions for health promotion, protection, and early diagnosis may include the process of persuasion employed. this study aims to evaluate the risk level of developing cancer, considering the pertinent risk factors, and the presence of persuasion and characteristics in communication regarding cancer prevention and early detection. it is an observational study, conducted among 110 inhabitants of a neighborhood in ribeirao preto, sao paulo, brazil. it was confirmed that there are high risks for colon/rectum, cervical, and endometrial cancer; and moderate risks for the above as well as lung and breast cancer. in terms of persuasion, it was observed that cancer information was spread but not sustained for long periods. moreover, there was no reinforcement. in view of cancer risk and the identified preventive behaviors, persuasion is considered a useful strategy to reduce these risks, as well as to encourage and sustain preventive behaviors, since it indicates routes to be followed.