Giving Latinas a Chance Against Breast Cancer

October 15, 2011 by  

Posted by Amelie Ramirez on

“I don’t have to worry about breast cancer.”

I hear that a lot from Latina women, unfortunately. They see statistics on how Latinas don’t get breast cancer nearly as often as black or white women.

They need to know: Breast cancer is the No. 1 Latina cancer killer.

Latinas are 20% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women diagnosed at similar ages and stages. Critical cultural beliefs continue to interfere with Latinas’ approach to cancer screening and early detection. Latinas still greatly fear breast cancer and don’t think there’s anything they can do to prevent it, so they put off screening. Latina moms take care of others first. Few Latinas recognize breast cancer often progresses slowly enough to be detected and treated. And even if Latinas are screened, they are more likely to delay/miss follow-up appointments and start treatment later once cancer is confirmed—leading to worse cancer outcomes.

But Latinas also need to know: Breast cancer doesn’t have to kill.

Prevention is the key, and timely screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care are critical if Latinas are to survive cancer and sustain a good quality of life.

Editors note: Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez is a foremost cancer expert at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, a partner of the Hispanic Access Foundation’s “Juntos Podemos Contra El Cancer” Project, contributing bilingual material used to teach Latinas how to best reduce their cancer risk, obtain needed screening and reduce fear.

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