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Breast and Cervical Cancer Among Latino Women

Author: Alarcon, Mariela
Date Published: 1998

Breast and cervical cancer rates over the past 20 years have contributed to a growing concern about finding ways to reduce this serious threat to women's health. Even though breast cancer incidence rates are lower among Hispanic women, evidence indicates that Hispanic women who get breast cancer are more likely than non-Hispanic women to have more advanced forms of the disease by the time they seek help. Cervical cancer has a cure rate of 99%; however, Hispanic women have higher incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer than do non-Hispanic women. Early detection and prompt treatment are key to reducing cancer deaths. The United States Congress passed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990 to be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This legislation is designed to make screening tests for breast and cervical cancer available to all women of low income, including minorities and Native Americans. Unfortunately, many Hispanic women remain unscreened. The barriers to obtaining a cancer screening test include lack of knowledge about screening on the part of the patients and physicians, poverty, and lack of access to care, culturally-based fatalistic attitudes toward cancer, and language barriers. Programs targeted to Hispanic women are in particularly great need since Hispanics represent the fastest-growing segment of the United States population. More effective community-based programs need to be identified and/or designed to address screening barriers.

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Number of Pages: 25