Latinas more likely to regret breast cancer treatment decisions

November 18, 2008

Latina women who prefer speaking Spanish are more likely than other ethnic groups to express regret or dissatisfaction with their breast cancer treatment, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Despite receiving similar treatment, Latina women were 5.6 times more likely than white women to report high levels of dissatisfaction and regret about their breast cancer treatment decision.

The researchers found that Latinas and other ethnic groups had similar levels of involvement with their doctor in deciding the treatment plan. But Latinas were more likely to say they would have preferred to be more involved in the decision making.

Researchers surveyed 925 women with non-advanced breast cancer from the Los Angeles area. Women were asked about the decision making process in choosing their breast cancer treatment. Nearly half of the women surveyed were Latina, with a quarter preferring to speak Spanish. These women were 3.5 times more likely than English-speaking Latinas to have difficulty understanding written information about breast cancer.

"Even though they received similar amounts of information as whites, Latinas who prefer speaking Spanish reported a strong desire for more information. Doctors may need to make additional effort to ensure this information is understandable and culturally appropriate for all ethnic groups to improve the decision making process for breast cancer patients," says lead study author Sarah T. Hawley, Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Source: University of Michigan

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