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Hispanic Women and Breast Cancer - Understudied Group

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 05, 2009 12:03 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Breast Cancer, Women's Health, Self-Exams, ELLA Binational Breast Cancer Study, University of Arizona

 

First report on breast cancer among Hispanic women comes out today.

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IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons / mammogram showing breast cancer / author: Lipothymia

 

Hispanic women living in the U.S. are delaying treatment by at least a month after finding suspected breast abnormalities, according to research being delivered at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference in Arizona.

Particularly troubling is that two-thirds of breast cancers found in Hispanic woman are being detected by self-exam, while 23 percent are discovered through mammogram, even though rates of screening mammograms are about 83 percent among US born Hispanic women.

Not surprisingly, a lack of health insurance seems to impact when a woman will seek medical care, reports US News. Data from the ELLA Binational Breast Cancer Study is being released today for the first time at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference in Arizona.

According to researcher Elena Martinez, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Arizona, “The problem [of breast cancer] is very poorly understood in this population, and it’s an issue that affects the U.S. because of the large and growing population of Hispanics in this country.”

The study brings together women from both sides of the border who were recently diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. What researchers have noticed is a difference in Hispanic women who are American-born and those born in Mexico.

Women born in Mexico tend to have their cancer diagnosed at a later age, an average diagnosis at 53.8 years, compared to 48.7 years in the U.S., according to data from ELLA which studied 652 women. Breast cancer may be found to be more aggressive in Hispanic women who wait to receive treatment.

A family history of breast cancer is more prevalent in the U.S. at 18.1 percent, compared to 6.2 in Mexico, according to a press release on the conference.

And Hispanic women tend to have a triple-negative breast cancer which calls for a different treatment from other types of breast cancers that are estrogen-receptor positive.

Among ethnic groups, Hispanic women have the highest gaps in insurance coverage, says Martinez.

The consensus confirms previous results of studies that suggest there are not only socioeconomic factors that contribute to cancer, but genetic and biological differences in Hispanic women that may call for different treatment strategies.  #


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