Latina Women’s Breast Cancer Survival Rate May Depend on Place of Origin

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A new study shows that a Latina’s place of origin my actually affect her chances of breast cancer survival.

According to Fox News Latino, breast cancer mortality rates differ among Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Central and South American women in the United States.

Unfortunately, roughly one in eight U.S. women — 12% — will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. According to the study, both Mexican and Puerto Rican women have the highest breast cancer mortality rates. Comparatively, women from Central and South America have the lowest mortality rates.

“There shouldn’t be an umbrella over the Hispanic community,” said Bijou Hunt, epidemiologist at the Sinai Urban Health Institute. “It’s a large and diverse group culturally with varying sets of beliefs. And healthcare providers need to remember that.”

Avon Foundation for Women, a company that has been addressing women’s issues for over 60 years, funded the groundbreaking study.

“We have to start by educating those in healthcare to understand that Hispanics are not just one big, homogenous group,” Hunt added. “There are these individual countries of origin to consider and there are differences among them.”

The study looked at data from 100,000 women and focused on a few specific factors contributing to the disparity in mortality rates. For each of these Hispanic countries, the women might not have as much access to timely treatments and screening tests compared to others.

The Miami Herald reports that another contributing factor to the disparity is the various beliefs and cultures these women have. In some countries, women consider cancer to be a death sentence no matter what, and may not seek out the necessary medical assistance.

“Part of the problem may be fear,” said Grace Wang, a breast cancer oncologist at Baptist Health South Florida. “I have patients who are well-educated and have a family history of breast cancer and they still put off getting mammograms.”

The study’s authors acknowledge that more research needs to be done to better determine how to address these issues. There are still genetic and other factors that are unknown.

“As much as we’re learning in science, we’re learning how different we are,” said Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, director of Cancer Research and Breast Medical Oncologist at Cancer Treatments of America. “There’s an explosion or revolution in what’s called personalized medicine and that’s why these data mining studies are important.”

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