Cancer Care Tip: Cancer in the Hispanic/Latino Community
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Hispanic/Latino population. An increase in cancer rates is expected as non-United States born Hispanics/Latinos embrace American behaviors such as increased alcohol intake, smoking, obesity and decreased activity.
Examples of cancers Hispanics/Latinos are at higher risk for would be cervical, stomach, and liver cancers. This is especially true in Hispanics/Latinos who are first generation Americans. Each of these cancers is linked to viruses or bacteria seen more often in developing countries. As a result it is important for those who have immigrated to talk to their doctors about their risk for these cancers and to be screened regularly.
The good news is cancer rates and deaths due to cancer for Hispanic/Latino men and women are lower than white non-Hispanic women and men. Unfortunately, for most all types of cancer Hispanics/Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages due to poor access to screenings. They are also less likely to have access to quality care once diagnosed. This difference shows how important quality primary care is in making sure each person receives timely screenings.
The majority of what we know about cancer and its causes has come from research with populations that are largely white non-Hispanic. And because differences exist in how cancer behaves in each ethnicity, it is important to increase the number of studies that focus on health disparities among the ethnicities and races as well as have more Hispanic/Latino men and women take part in research studies. The more knowledge we have the better treatment options there will be.
It is also important for health care providers to provide culturally sensitive information about cancer prevention, screenings, types, treatments and coping in Spanish as well as English for their patients.
For cancer information in Spanish or more information about any cancer concern, contact the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center/Cancer Information Service.