Families Influence Latinas' Breast Cancer Treatment

The powerful role of family accentuates racial and ethnic group treatment disparities

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Families exert a powerful influence on the treatment decisions of older Latinas with breast cancer, which may account for some differences in treatment among racial/ethnic groups, according to a study in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Cancer.

Rose C. Maly, M.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues surveyed a sample of 257 breast cancer patients identified by the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program. The sample included 99 Latina, 66 black, and 92 white women aged 55 or older, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer three to nine months earlier.

About 49% of the less acculturated Latinas and 18% of the more acculturated Latinas said their family members made the final treatment decision, compared to fewer than 4% of blacks and whites, the researchers found. In general, women were less likely to have breast-conserving treatment (adjusted odds ratio, 0.39) if a family member made the final decision in regards to treatment.

"Family appears to play a powerful role in treatment decision-making among older Latina breast carcinoma patients, regardless of the level of acculturation," the authors write. "This family influence appears to contribute to racial/ethnic group differences in treatment received. Physicians should acknowledge and educate patients' family members as potential key participants in medical decision-making."

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