The Women's Health Resource. On the web since 1997.

Study Suggests Latina Women Seek More Information about Breast Cancer Treatment (dateline December 28, 2008)

Latina women are more likely to express dissatisfaction with breast cancer treatment and may require more information about the process according to the results of a recent study. Researchers found that Latina women residing in the United States who received similar breast cancer treatment to white women were more likely to be unhappy with the treatment decisions made. The women reported a strong desire for more information, suggesting that healthcare professionals spend more time discussing breast cancer treatment decisions with Latina patients.

Lead researcher Sarah Hawley, Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and her colleagues surveyed 925 women with non-advanced breast cancer from the Los Angeles area. The women were asked about the breast cancer decision-making process. The results appear in the November issue of the journal Patient Education and Counseling. Nearly half of the women surveyed were Latina, with a quarter preferring to speak Spanish. These women were 3.5 times more likely than English-speaking Latinas to have difficulty understanding written information about breast cancer, according to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study found that Latina women were 5.6 times more likely than white women to report high levels of dissatisfaction and regret about their breast cancer treatment decision, even though they received comparable treatment to the other women in the study.

"Even though they received similar amounts of information as whites, Latinas who prefer speaking Spanish reported a strong desire for more information. Doctors may need to make additional effort to ensure this information is understandable and culturally appropriate for all ethnic groups to improve the decision making process for breast cancer patients," said Dr. study Hawley in a University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center news release.

Before undergoing treatment, women are encouraged to learn about the different treatment options available and to discuss all possible alternatives with their physician or cancer treatment team. It is always a wise decision to obtain a second opinion before beginning breast cancer treatment. Depending on the situation (stage of cancer, size and location of town, and so forth), some women will have more options in choosing a cancer treatment team than others. However, breast cancer is not usually a medical emergency since the majority of breast cancers are detected at early stages before the cancer has spread past the breast. Most women have a sufficient amount of time to learn about and decide upon treatment options.

Additional Resources and References