LatinaLista — One of the most frightening messages any woman can receive is being told that she had an abnormal mammogram. Most women immediately follow instructions for follow-up examination and proceed with treatment, if it’s needed. Most women, just not most Latinas.
A new study released today by the Redes En Acción research network found that it took Latinas 33 days longer to reach definitive diagnosis of breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women.
Why the wait?
The study pointed out that while Latinas have lower incidences of breast cancer than white or African American women, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Latinas. Mainly for one reason: Latinas are less likely to get mammograms.
When they do, it’s usually at such a late stage of the disease that survivor’s rates are lower. And so we return to the question, why the wait?
The study says that the Latinas prone to waiting are low-income and those who find the health care system too overwhelming.
barriers include knowledge and cultural-specific health beliefs leading to mistrust of the healthcare system and clinical research trials; competing health, family, and work responsibilities; reduced access to care; lack of insurance and social support; cost; language issues; lack of transportation and child care; psychological distress; poor physician-patient communication; and system inefficiencies.
The report’s authors say that the women who leave eventually return but by that time it’s too late in many cases.
While the report is meant to show the disparity between Latinas and others in their breast care treatment, it’s clear that Latinas don’t put themselves or their health first or for those who are Spanish-dominant don’t understand the severity of the disease if not treated early.
If there are two messages to be gleaned from this study, it’s that Latinas must learn to value themselves more and the healthcare industry can do a lot more to ensure Latinas get the message.