Hispanic/Latino people have lower screening rates for breast and colorectal cancer, according to the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s 2023 Early Detection Survey.
Barriers to routine cancer screenings for Hispanics/Latinos may include racism in the health care system, language barriers, lack of paid sick leave and insurance, and lower education levels.
Prevent Cancer Foundation offers Spanish-language resources about cancer prevention and early detection.
Early detection means better outcomes when it comes to all types of cancer. And cancer screening is key to that early detection.
Yet barriers mean screening rates are lower among Hispanic Americans, and many may not have equal access to cancer prevention resources.
In The Prevent Cancer Foundation‘s 2023 Early Detection Survey, Hispanic participants reported significantly lower rates for breast cancer screening (46%) than Black participants (61%) and white participants (63%). Colorectal cancer screening rates were similarly lower for Hispanic participants (46%) than Black participants (54%) and white participants (61%).1
Why are routine cancer screenings important?
Cancer is the top cause of death for Hispanic/Latino people,2 so routine cancer screenings are vital for this community. Most people don’t experience signs or symptoms of cancer until it’s in advanced stages. But you don’t need to wait for symptoms to check your health through cancer screening tests.
With routine screening, you can detect cancer early (before signs or symptoms appear).
Early detection of cancer can mean less extensive treatment, more treatment options and better chances of survival. The five-year survival rate for many cancers is 90% when found in its early stages.
Why aren’t Hispanics getting routine cancer screenings?
Many factors can contribute to the large number of Hispanics/Latinos not receiving routine cancer screenings. A 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) survey tracking Americans’ views on cancer research and care highlighted how racism in the health care system can delay cancer screenings. The survey found that three in five Americans (including 70% of Hispanics) believe that racism impacts the health care a person receives in the U.S.3 Studies have shown that health care providers often have subconscious preferences, called implicit bias, for white patients over patients of color.4
Other barriers to health care access for Hispanics/Latinos include language barriers that impact health literacy, lack of paid sick leave, lack of health insurance, and lower rates of post-secondary education. These “social determinants of health” further contribute to the health inequities that disproportionately impact Hispanics, such as higher rates of liver, cervical and stomach cancers.5 These cancers are often caused by infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which could be prevented or detected and treated before becoming cancerous.
What resources can help Hispanics/Latinos learn more about cancer prevention and early detection?
The Prevent Cancer Foundation Early Detection = Better Outcomes campaign offers resources in both Spanish and English that include easy-to-use, educational tools for cancer prevention and early detection. Hispanic people are more than twice as likely as white Americans to be uninsured,6 but there are some free and low-cost cancer screening options to get the routine screenings you need.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation’s website also has a language plug-in for those who would like to read or share information in Spanish. (Go to the top of the webpage, click on the American flag, and other language options will become available.)
Cancer prevention and early detection resources available in Spanish include:
- Routine cancer screening chart (Deteccion Temprana = Mejoras Resultados)
- Cancer screening checklist
- Family health history chart (Conozca Su Historia De Salud Familiar)
- Guide to Preventing Cancer (Una Guia Para Prevenir El Cancer)
- Interactive tool that delivers a personalized screening plan
Not only is October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but we also recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This annual observance honors the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the Hispanic/Latino community. Visit the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Better Outcomes Resource Hub to find more cancer prevention and early detection information and tools in English and Spanish for yourself and your loved ones.
1. Prevent Cancer Foundation. 2023 Early Detection Survey. February 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.preventcancer.org/early-cancer-detection-better-outcomes/2023-early-detection-survey/
2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanic and Latino People. Found on the internet at https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/hispanics-latinos-facts-figures.html
3. The Harris Poll. ASCO 2020 National Cancer Opinions Survey. Found on the internet at https://old-prod.asco.org/sites/new-www.asco.org/files/content-files/2020-ASCO-National-Cancer-Opinions-Survey-All-Findings.pdf
4. William J. Hall, et al. Implicit Racial/Ethnic Bias Among Health Care Professionals and Its Influence on Health Care Outcomes: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Public Health. December 2015. Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4638275/
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hispanic or Latino People and Cancer. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/health-equity/groups/hispanic-latino.htm
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Health Insurance Coverage and Access to Care Among Latinos: Recent Trends and Key Challenges. Oct. 8, 2021. Found on the internet at https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/68c78e2fb15209dd191cf9b0b1380fb8/ASPE_Latino_Health_Coverage_IB.pdf