AACR: Breast Cancer in Hispanic Women Understudied

Studies show differences between those born in Mexico and those born in the United States

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer characteristics are significantly different in Mexican-born Hispanics and American-born Hispanics, suggesting that Hispanics are an understudied group, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities held Feb. 3 to 6 in Carefree, Ariz.

Three abstracts were presented from the ELLA Binational Breast Cancer Study, in which researchers studied 343 breast cancer patients in Mexico and 309 in the United States. A fourth abstract was presented from the San Francisco Bay Area Breast Cancer Study.

Among the key findings: Women in Mexico are significantly older at diagnosis than those in the United States (53.8 years versus 48.7 years), the prevalence of a family history of breast cancer is lower in Mexico (6.2 percent versus 18.1 percent), and the rate of mammography use is lower in Hispanic women not born in the United States (62 percent versus 83 percent). In addition, the overall risk of breast cancer is considerably higher among U.S.-born Hispanics than among Mexican immigrants, the investigators found.

"Foreign-born Hispanic women have a lower risk for breast cancer than U.S.-born Hispanic women, and differences in reproductive and lifestyle factors explain some of the difference in risk, but not all of it," Esther John, Ph.D., of the Northern California Cancer Center in San Francisco, said in a statement. "What is interesting is that over the long term, foreign-born Hispanic immigrants adopt behaviors that place them at greater risk for breast cancer."

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