By William Laferriere
At Survivingbreastcancer.org and Después de un Diagnóstico, we strive to break down the many barriers faced by the Latino community vis-à-vis healthcare in the US and throughout the Americas. In fact, our outreach in the last several months has been remarkable, with over 20,000 Spanish translations of our website www.survivingbreastcancer.org.
We have a strategy (below) but need help, and therefore are making a direct appeal to you.
Many complex and interconnected factors contribute to racial disparities in breast cancer development and outcomes. These factors include genetics, lifestyle, access to healthcare, social determinants of health, and limited research conducted in people of color.
At Survivingbreastcancer.org, we are creating a Hispanic Outreach Program throughout the Americas looking to break down cultural, socioeconomic, and language barriers, and improve access to breast cancer screenings. This last is an essential factor in improving breast cancer outcomes among Hispanic women.
The following are several strategies that we are suggesting to increase breast cancer awareness and screenings:
Cultural context-specific breast cancer awareness campaigns
Enhancing the availability of breast cancer-specific education and support programs
Developing partnerships with community organizations to increase breast cancer screening access in local areas
Improving breast cancer screening guidelines to better reflect the needs of Hispanic women
In order to improve access to care for Hispanic women, we must work together to create a culturally sensitive healthcare environment where these women feel comfortable talking about their health needs and accessing screening services. Community-based programs designed to provide educational resources about breast cancer in Spanish can be an effective way of reaching this population. Additionally, healthcare providers must be aware of the cultural dynamics at play in order to provide culturally sensitive care.
We must first understand the underlying cultural issues that can prevent Hispanic individuals from seeking medical help for breast cancer. Many Hispanic women have difficulty discussing their bodies and health with others, especially if they are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the healthcare system.
Additionally, language and cultural barriers can make it difficult to access proper healthcare services. This means that many Hispanic women are not receiving the necessary information about breast cancer risk factors and screenings that could save their lives.
Note: 19% of the population in the continental US and Hawaii identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino. In addition, more than 3 million Hispanic Americans reside in Puerto Rico, a US territory. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic people, accounting for 20% of deaths. While Hispanic men and women are less likely than non-Hispanic white individuals to be diagnosed with the most common cancers (lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate), they have a higher risk for cancers associated with infectious agents, such as the liver, stomach, and cervix. However, there is much variation in the cancer burden among Hispanic subgroups, with Mexican Americans having the highest cancer prevalence.
SurvivingBreastCancer.org Resources & Support: