SAN ANTONIO – Cancer has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death among Hispanics and now, there’s a new warning for Latina women.
A UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) study shows when they get an abnormal mammogram, it takes more than 30 days longer than white women to get a breast cancer diagnosis.
Researchers say the alarming trend isn’t just happening in south Texas. They studied Latina women in six cities across the country and found there are a lot of barriers to getting good health care.
They say studies have shown for years minorities are less likely to get screenings like mammograms that might prevent a major illness, or at least diagnosis one earlier.
"Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in Hispanic women,” UTHSC researcher Dorothy Long Parma says.
She says after a mammogram, on average, white women find out they have breast cancer after about a month, but Hispanic women find out after two months.
"That does affect their prognosis of survival and how hard it's going to be to treat the cancer,” Long Parma says.
She says nationwide, Hispanic women face obstacles before getting diagnosed.
"There are things like finances,” Long Parma says. “There's a language barrier a lot of times."
Now, researchers are studying ways to get Hispanic women treated faster.
"The area we're working on is called patient navigation where we have community health workers help women overcome various barriers,” Long Parma says.
The workers would help patients overcome barriers like transportation or child care and then walk them through the road to recovery.
Researchers say this study should be an important reminder to Latinas: get a regular mammogram, especially if they have a family history of cancer.