Breast Health: Self Breast Examination among Hispanic Women
Welcome to this month’s Breast Health e-Newsletter. Our topic: Hispanic women discover own breast cancer. But wait, most breast cancers in Hispanic women are detected by the women themselves, a new study shows. This news comes despite high rates of screening mammography in Hispanic women. What’s troubling, however, is that about half of all women who noticed a problem waited at least a month before seeking medical help.
The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities. Two thirds of breast cancers in Hispanic women are discovered by accident. Twenty-three percent are detected through mammography, and another six percent are found during a clinical exam. Screening mammography rates were 83 percent among U.S. born Hispanic women, and 62 percent among non-U.S. born Hispanic women, researchers say.
Why did women wait so long before seeking help? Largely because of lack of health insurance, or other ways to afford medical care, says study author Rachel Zenuk. According to co-leader Dr. Elena Martinez, the problem of breast cancer is very poorly understood in this group. It’s an issue that affects the U.S. because of the large and growing population of Hispanics. Information for the study comes from the Ella Binational Breast Cancer Study. Researchers have recruited more than 650 women. About half are Mexican-American women in the U.S., and half in Mexico.
So far, the study has found that women in Mexico tend to be diagnosed at an older age than women in the U.S., although many risk factors were similar. The second study to use ELLA data found that Hispanic women with a family history of breast cancer were more likely to have triple-negative breast cancer. This type of cancer calls for different treatment options than other breast cancer types. But the increased risk among Hispanic women applied to those born in Mexico, not among those born in the U.S.
A third group of researchers found that Hispanic women born in the U.S. were more likely to have a number of risk factors for breast cancer, including a family history of the disease, and obesity. Lifestyle factors could explain much of this difference, say researchers, though, not all of it.
For more information, always consult your doctor. Thank you for listening. Please visit our website for more information on health and wellness topics: www.muschealth.com.