Education is key to breast cancer prevention in Latina women

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. 

Overall, breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer amongst women worldwide. Among Hispanic women, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of death, with an estimated 3,200 deaths in 2018 according to a Cancer.org fact sheet. Additionally, there were an estimated 24,000 cases of Hispanic women diagnosed in 2018. 

Breast Cancer education and prevention for Latinas

Latinas are warriors and champions in everything they do, from being successful entrepreneurs to battling cancer, the Latina spirit always perseveres through adversity. Organizations such as Latinas Contra Cancer and ALAS-WINGS were created by Latina cancer survivors with the mission to help other women through education, resources, and support. 

Education is one of the key prevention measures against breast cancer. While breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic women, they still exhibit 25-30% lower overall mortality rates compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

In fact, studies have shown that the risk of breast cancer is even lower in those who are foreign-born. This is attributed to many cultural factors such as younger age at first birth, less use of menopausal hormone therapy, higher rates of breastfeeding, and different diets. 

The biggest issue facing Hispanic women when it comes to breast cancer is early detection and diagnosis. Breast cancer is less likely to be diagnosed at the earliest stage in Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

According to data provided by Cancer.org, in 2005-2009, 56% of breast cancers among Hispanic women were diagnosed at a local stage, compared to 64% among non-Hispanic white women. Due to later detection, Hispanic women are more likely to be diagnosed with tumors that are larger and are hormone receptor negative, which are more difficult to treat. 

Additionally, Hispanic women are less likely to receive regular mammography screening due to a variety of factors. These factors include difficulties related to access to care, insurance coverage, and a higher prevalence of unmet healthcare needs

Latinas Contra Cancer is working to address these factors by raising awareness about cancer in the Latino community, increasing access to quality care, working to decrease mortality and improving the quality of the health care experience. Their mission is to create an inclusive health care system that provides services to the underserved Latino population around issues of breast and other cancers.  

You might be interested: Marcela Berland, a pioneer in working from home, combines work and maternity

Reducing risk factors through lifestyle changes 

While there are some risk factors such as age, genetics, and family history that cannot be changed, there are many risk factors that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. 

Some of these manageable risk factors include diet and exercise, weight management, alcohol consumption, menopausal hormone treatment, and breastfeeding habits. 

By adapting a health-conscious lifestyle, many risk factors may be prevented. Above all, continued education and awareness will help women make informed decisions about their health and contribute to the prevention and early detection of breast cancer. 

For additional resources visit: 

Cancer.org 

Latinas Contra Cancer

ALAS-WINGS 

NationalBreastCancer.Org

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