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Breast cancer awareness month: what doctors want Hispanic women to know

Posted at 2:54 PM, Oct 29, 2021

As we close out Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah wants to share some important stats that may just save your life.

Regence’s Executive Medical Director Dr. Amy Khan says cancer causes the most deaths among Latinas, a group disproportionately affected by the disease.

“When it comes to staying healthy, you know, it’s really important that not only Latinas, but all women take steps to get a well-balanced diet, get regular physical activity, and take care of your mental health. These are all critical in preventing heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses but it can also prevent cancer. ”

Dr. Khan says by far breast cancer is the most common cancer in Latinas, followed by uterine cancer. She says Hispanic women are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 30 percent more likely to die from it.

“It’s critical to get the message out about the value about Latinas receiving the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine or HPV vaccine as well as receiving regular screenings to detect it early,” says Khan.

Unfortunately, Khan says access to healthcare for many in the Hispanic community can be limited.

“Some of the obstacles these women face are low average income or unable to get time off from work during clinic hours to get to their appointments. They may also not be clear about how or where to get a screening or lack of insurance coverage. Or perhaps face barriers like transportation, childcare or language barriers that limit their ability to access these preventative screenings,” says Khan.

Many healthcare companies offer free screenings, along with the CDC, and it’s that early detection, Dr. Khan says is key when it comes to survival.

“Mammograms remain the best way to detect breast cancer. And the US preventative services task force recommend these screenings take place every other year for women between the ages of 50-74. Now some women may want to start their screenings earlier depending on risk factors,” says Khan.

The pandemic has kept many from making those appointments for regular checkups.

“Some estimates show that nearly 4-million screenings did not happen over the past year and a half.”

And she says the disparity is even higher among Hispanic women.

Khan says, “if you’ve held off on getting a screening because of COVID-19, don’t delay any longer.”