Latina women with breast cancer are likely to experience numerous gaps and unmet needs in their survivorship care, according to research findings from Oregon State University.1

The Institute of Medicine describes optimal survivorship care as comprising prevention of disease recurrence, new cancers, and late effects of treatment; monitoring or surveillance for cancer and medical and psychosocial issues; interventions for the effects of cancer and its treatment; and coordination among specialists and the primary care team to ensure all health needs are met.

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Because education, clinical practice, and research have largely neglected survivorship, researchers sought to determine the issues that impact survivorship care among women of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Central and South American descent.

For this study, 74 Latina women, age 30 to 75 years, who had had breast cancer were recruited through support groups and health fairs. Approximately 50% of the women were low-income, uninsured, or publicly insured. The women participated in semistructured focus groups.

Latina women are more likely to have later-stage disease at diagnosis compared with non-Hispanic whites due to cultural and linguistic barriers such as modesty, spiritual beliefs regarding why they developed cancer, prioritizing their familial role over their own health, and passive interactions with health care providers due to their respect for the authority of health care providers.

Many participants in the focus groups expressed confusion regarding future care needs after primary cancer treatment concludes. Furthermore, many misinterpreted survivorship care as plans to help their families carry on after they were gone.

The researchers recommend developing interventions that enhance peer and professional support services, and promote and educate patients about survivorship care plans.2


1. Recovering Latina breast cancer patients report big gaps in ‘survivorship’ care [news release]. Oregon State University web site. December 1, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2016.

2. Tisnado DM, Mendez-Luck C, Metz J, Peirce K, Montaño B. Perceptions of survivorship care among Latina women with breast cancer in Los Angeles County. Public Health Nurs. 2016 Nov 2. doi: 10.1111/ohn.12299. [epub ahead of print]