New Preventive Program for Latinas Unveiled

TON - February 2012 VOL 5, No 1 published on February 29, 2012 in Conference Correspondent, Conference Correspondent
Alice Goodman

An outreach effort aimed at Latina women was unveiled at a poster session during the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS). The innovation was a novela called “Se Valiente … Son Tus Senos” (Be Brave … They’re Your Breasts) that conveys accessible and personal information for Latina women in an effort to overcome barriers in this community to accessing healthcare. The novela was developed by SHARE (Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer), a peer-group organization for survivors of breast and ovarian cancer.

The novela has been distributed to 25,000 people at 478 sites within New York City and 89 other sites in the United States, as well as internationally. Pretest and posttest evaluations show that the novela significantly increases Latina women’s knowledge about breast health, breast cancer, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.

The genesis for the novella was the recognition that many Latina women do not undergo screening and are less likely to seek treatment for breast cancer than non-Latinas. “Breast cancer remains a leading cause of death among Latina women, and 5-year survival rates remain lower than those of other groups. Language and cultural barriers, as well as myths and fears, prevent many women from being diagnosed early and receiving adequate treatment. The novela has been shown to have a critical impact on dispelling those myths and providing accurate and relevant information,” said SHARE’s senior director of programs, Ivis Sampayo. [more information is available at www.sharecan cersupport.org]

A separate study presented at the 2011 SABCS underscored the fact that Latina women with breast cancer have a worse prognosis. Hispanic women had a 20% increased risk of death due to breast cancer compared with non-Hispanic white women. The authors suggested that the mortality difference may be related to increased resistance to chemotherapy in tumors of Latina women.

The findings were from the New Mexico Women’s Health Study (NMWHS), conducted from 1992 to 1996. A first primary breast cancer was documented in 692 women, 577 of them with invasive breast cancer. The latter group was followed through 2008 to compare long-term survival differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. Lead author was Kathy Baumgartner, PhD, professor of epidemiology and associate dean at the University of Louisville, Kentucky.

Baumgartner said this research is consistent with previous studies. After adjusting for other risk factors, including age, stage, lymph node involvement, and estrogen receptor status, the risk dropped considerably, suggesting that there may be a biological basis for the difference in breast cancer mortality among His­panics, Baumgartner said.

The adjusted analysis also showed that Hispanic women treated with chemotherapy were 1.5 times more likely to die of breast cancer compared with non-Hispanic whites who received chemotherapy.

She commented that the altered response to chemotherapy may be related to a propensity toward developing resistance among Hispanic women. “Some studies have suggested that Hispanic women are more likely to develop estrogen receptor–negative tumors that are resistant to chemotherapy,” Baumgartner stated.

No difference in deaths due to other causes was observed between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.

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Last modified: May 21, 2015