Latina Cancer Patients Often Walk a Different Path

Healthcare professionals who treat patients as they battle cancer generally have one mission in mind: saving the patient. For those on the other side of the diagnosis, however, lifesaving efforts aren’t the only form of treatment that is often required. Support to help them walk the path they must now tread is also critical for increasing compliance and producing favorable outcomes. That means addressing more than tumors is crucial for increasing chances for success.

When healthcare providers are working with Latinas they may find the need for different types of support is present. Many Latinas, a new study points out, face different stressors during cancer battles than other patients. Due in part to cultural differences and in part due to language barriers, patients of Hispanic descent may benefit from interventions that go beyond the norm.

To better identify the unique stressors Latinas diagnosed with cancer face, researchers at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida conducted a study. They ultimately identified these concerns among the Latina cancer patient populations:

• Lack of information – Many Latinas involved in the study expressed concerns about poor communication with their healthcare providers. They received little information about their treatments and little guidance about side effects. Information that was provided or available was not in Spanish, making consumption difficult in many cases.
• Family issues – Many Latina cancer patients live far away from family support systems. This can pose an especially difficult challenge for some. Those who provided support for family back home may not have even shared their diagnosis with family.
• Personal concerns – Some women interviewed in the study took on a great deal of burden by worrying that could not function as mothers while undergoing treatments. Since support systems were often far away, the issue is complex one for the medical community to help address.

Healthcare professionals who want to help their Latina patients undergo treatments successfully may want to consider the unique needs of these patients. Oftentimes, researchers have found, these patients have stressors that go beyond the norm.

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