Studies have demonstrated that Hispanic (relative to Anglo) women are at greater risk for late-stage breast cancer diagnosis. Screening irregularity may be a factor contributing to late-stage diagnosis, yet virtually nothing is known about the breast cancer-screening behavior of Hispanic women. We interviewed 600 elderly Hispanic women residing in Los Angeles to collect information on frequency of physician breast examinations and mammography and on regularity and competence of breast self-examination. Predictors of screening were also examined. Fifty percent of our sample indicated that they had had a breast exam within the past year; 12.5% had had a mammogram within the past year (74% never had had a mammogram); and 47% reported that they had performed breast self-examination within the past month. Few of the women were able to demonstrate adequate breast self-examination technique on a foam breast model, and only 1% found all five lumps present. Thus, although the observed frequency of screening and self-examination is comparable to national norms, it is unlikely that our subjects' attempts at self-examination would lead to early breast cancer detection. Age, educational level, emotional reactions to screening, and media cues predicted screening behavior. Physician instruction in breast self-examination increased the frequency and adequacy of self-examination. Perceived susceptiblity to cancer, perceived benefits of early detection, and level of acculturation were not strong predictors. The extent to which our results generalize to other subpopulations of Hispanic women is discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health