BACKGROUND: There is limited research on the informational needs and deficits of Latino cancer patients. Patients’ knowledge levels influences their ability to participate actively in decision-making processes for medical care and their ability to manage their condition to improve medical outcomes (Polacek, et al., 2007; Rust & Davis, 2011).
PURPOSE: This cross-sectional study explores the awareness of cancer staging of Latina breast cancer patients and examines what acculturative variables are associated with being unaware of cancer stage.
METHODS: A cross-sectional needs assessment was conducted with Latino patients in cancer centers of New York. The survey was provided in the patient’s preferred language. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were conducted for the analysis.
RESULTS: One hundred and fourteen Latina breast cancer patients were recruited (age mean 55 years). Seventy-six per cent of the sample were monolingual in Spanish. Half of the patients were aware of their stage and 25% knew if their tumor had metastasized. After controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, being an immigrant with limited English proficiency (LEP) and monolingual in Spanish, were independently associated with both not knowing their stage and not knowing if they had metastatic cancer. Being unaware of the state of the tumor was also predicted by uninsured status, more recent immigration, needing interpretation for health care and having at least two comorbidities. Patients who were receiving chemotherapy were more likely to know whether their tumor had metastasized.
IMPLICATIONS: This study show considerably low levels of stage awareness among Latinas diagnosed with breast cancer. This lack of knowledge might adversely impact their treatment decisions and disease management. Further studies should focus on identifying why these patients lack this information and what other type of information they are missing. Patients may benefit from educational interventions aiming to empower patients to take a more active role and request more information about their disease.
- Polacek-Johnston, G. N. L., Ramos, M. C., & Ferrer, R. L. (2007). Breast cancer disparities and decision-making among U.S. women. Patient Education & Counseling, 65(2), 158-165.
- Rust, C., & Davis, C. (2011). Health literacy and medication adherence in underserved African-american breast cancer survivors: a qualitative study. Social Work in Health Care, 50(9), 739-761.
- Chen, Y. P., Tsang, N. M., Tseng, C. K., & Lin, S. Y. (2000). Causes of interruption of radiotherapy in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients in Taiwan. Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology, 30(5), 230-234.