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    Research Grants Awarded

    Quality of Life in Latina Breast Cancer Survivors: The Role of Culture

    Study Section:
    Population Specific

    Scientific Abstract:
    Currently Latinos are the largest minority group in the US. The Washington DC area has a growing Latino population comprised mostly of new immigrants from Central and South America, an important and under-studied sub-group. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Latino women (hereinafter referred to as "Latinas"). Given the large project growth of this sub-group and improvements in early detection, the absolute number of Latina women with breast cancer will increase dramatically in the coming decades. However we have little data to inform health professionals about Latinas' experiences with breast cancer. The Latin American Cancer Research Coalition (LACRC), a community organization (Nueva Vida), and the Lombardi Cancer Center will address this important gap in knowledge. Most disparities research has focused on screening but not survivorship. The overarching goal is to use the Vulnerability Model to illuminate factors that relate to positive quality of life in Latina survivors. The proposed study is cross-sectional and involves two phases. First, four focus groups will be conducted to explore unique cultural factors that influence post-treamtent quality of life of those survivors. Focus group data will be added to standard measures. The survey will be cognitively tested with Spanish speakers. Second, a convenience sample of 300 Latina breast cancer survivors (12-60 months post-diagnosis) will be drawn from hospitals and doctors in the LACRC network. A bilingual interviewer will contact eligible women to complete a 30-minute telephone interview. The primary aims are to test the following hypotheses: (1) familialismo (placing the extended family at the center of one's experience) will moderate the relationships between family support and quality of life. For example, women with more family support, will have better overal quality of life. This effect will be stronger for women who believe in familialismo than for women who do not hold this cultural view; and (2)Survivors who report poorer communication with their providers and greater communication barriers will have more unmet needs and poorer adaptation than other women. These data will be important to understand how to improve long-term quality of life and reduce disparities in cancer outcomes in Latinas. Physicians, survivors, and community groups may benefit from the knowledge gleaned from this vulnerable and under-studied population.

    Lay Abstract:
    Latinos are the largest minority group in the US. There is a growing Latino population made up of mostly new immigrants from Central and South American in the Washington DC area. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Latino women (referred to as "Latinas"). Given the large growth in this subgroup and improvements in early detection the number of Latina women with breast cancer will increase in the coming decade. However, we do not know enough about Latina women's experiences with breast cancer to assist health professionals. The Latin American Cancer Research Coalition (LACRC), a community organization (Nueva Vida), and the Lombardi Cancer Center propose the following study to add to our knowledge about Latina breast cancer survivors. First, four focus groups will be held for Latina breast cancer survivors who are 12-60 months after their diagnosis. These women will be asked to describe their lives after cancer treatment. The group leader will ask about any cultural beliefs they have. The information from the focus group will be added to a survey about survivor quality of life. Second, 300 Latina breast cancer survivors from hospitals and doctors in the LACRC network will be asked to complete a 30 minute survey over the telephone. The investigator expects that women with more family support will have better overall quality of life. If these women also believe in familialismo (placing great importance on the needs of the extended family) they will benefit even more from the family support. The information learned from this study could help improve the quality of life in Latina breast cancer survivors. Physicians, survivors, and community groups can also benefit from this study because they will have more information about the needs of Latina breast cancer survivors.