Minority women less likely to understand their breast cancer diagnosis

Approximately 12 percent of women in the United States will develop an invasive form of breast cancer, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Of those, non-Hispanic white women will be more likely to understand the intricacies of their diagnosis, compared to minority women; however, new research indicates women in general do not understand enough about what it means to have breast cancer. SEE ALSO: Research finds important breast cancer link in Hispanic women The disparity among women varies by race/ethnicity, even when researchers eliminated factors related to socioeconomic and health literacy factors. There was some reduction in the disparity between Hispanic women and non-Hispanic white women when healthy literacy was improved, but no change was observed for African American women. Overall, Hispanic and African American women in the study knew less about their breast cancer tumors when compared to non-Hispanic white women. “Our results illustrate the lack of understanding many patients have about their cancers and have identified a critical need for improved patient education and provider awareness of this issue,”  Dr. Rachel Freedman, study author, said in a press release. “Improving patients’ understanding about why a particular treatment is important for her individual situation may lead to more informed decisions and better adherence to treatment.” Lack of understanding breast cancer is a factor that further complicates the diagnosis for minority women. Hispanic women, for example, traditionally have fewer incidences of breast cancer, but when they are diagnosed, they are diagnosed at younger ages and with more serious forms of the disease. The Susan G. Komen Foundation indicates Hispanic and other minority women are less likely to receive preventative breast cancer screenings–an important part of catching breast cancer early–generally because of low income, lack of health insurance, language barriers, and cultural norms. Now, for women as a whole, timely catching of breast cancer may not be enough if the patient doesn’t understand the specifics of their personal diagnosis. Freedman and her team noted, among 500 study participants, 32 percent to 82 percent (divided by race/ethnicity) reported they knew each of the tumor characteristics that they were asked about, such as the tumor stage, grade, and receptor status (also known as breast cancer subtype).  Only 20 percent to 58 percent actually reported these characteristics correctly, however. Understanding the type of breast cancer a woman has been diagnosed with can be critical to treatment. Hispanic women, for example, are more likely than other women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a type of aggressive breast cancer that is not responsive to normal breast cancer therapies. What’s more, certain factors, like breast feeding and family history, can increase a Hispanic woman’s risk for this form of tumor. SEE ALSO: Triple-negative breast cancer impacts Mexican women Dr. Freedman indicated in the press release that improved understanding of one’s tumor characteristics and the reasons for personalized treatment recommendations could also improve a woman’s trust, confidence, and satisfaction with her cancer treatment providers, something minority women have also struggled with in past research models.The post Minority women less likely to understand their breast cancer diagnosis appeared first on Voxxi.

Understanding breast cancer is an important part of personalized treatment. (Shutterstock)

Approximately 12 percent of women in the United States will develop an invasive form of breast cancer, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Of those, non-Hispanic white women will be more likely to understand the intricacies of their diagnosis, compared to minority women; however, new research indicates women in general do not understand enough about what it means to have breast cancer.

SEE ALSO: Research finds important breast cancer link in Hispanic women

The disparity among women varies by race/ethnicity, even when researchers eliminated factors related to socioeconomic and health literacy factors. There was some reduction in the disparity between Hispanic women and non-Hispanic white women when healthy literacy was improved, but no change was observed for African American women. Overall, Hispanic and African American women in the study knew less about their breast cancer tumors when compared to non-Hispanic white women.

“Our results illustrate the lack of understanding many patients have about their cancers and have identified a critical need for improved patient education and provider awareness of this issue,”  Dr. Rachel Freedman, study author, said in a press release. “Improving patients’ understanding about why a particular treatment is important for her individual situation may lead to more informed decisions and better adherence to treatment.”

Lack of understanding breast cancer is a factor that further complicates the diagnosis for minority women. Hispanic women, for example, traditionally have fewer incidences of breast cancer, but when they are diagnosed, they are diagnosed at younger ages and with more serious forms of the disease. The Susan G. Komen Foundation indicates Hispanic and other minority women are less likely to receive preventative breast cancer screenings–an important part of catching breast cancer early–generally because of low income, lack of health insurance, language barriers, and cultural norms.

Now, for women as a whole, timely catching of breast cancer may not be enough if the patient doesn’t understand the specifics of their personal diagnosis.

Breast cancer can be devestating
Different women are at-risk for different forms of breast cancer. (Shutterstock)

Freedman and her team noted, among 500 study participants, 32 percent to 82 percent (divided by race/ethnicity) reported they knew each of the tumor characteristics that they were asked about, such as the tumor stage, grade, and receptor status (also known as breast cancer subtype).  Only 20 percent to 58 percent actually reported these characteristics correctly, however.

Understanding the type of breast cancer a woman has been diagnosed with can be critical to treatment. Hispanic women, for example, are more likely than other women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a type of aggressive breast cancer that is not responsive to normal breast cancer therapies. What’s more, certain factors, like breast feeding and family history, can increase a Hispanic woman’s risk for this form of tumor.

SEE ALSO: Triple-negative breast cancer impacts Mexican women

Dr. Freedman indicated in the press release that improved understanding of one’s tumor characteristics and the reasons for personalized treatment recommendations could also improve a woman’s trust, confidence, and satisfaction with her cancer treatment providers, something minority women have also struggled with in past research models.

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The post Minority women less likely to understand their breast cancer diagnosis appeared first on Voxxi.