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Hispanic Women Have High Rates Of Cancer Gene Muta

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Women: Breast Cancer


Women get breast cancer when cells in the breast don't grow right, and a tumor forms. Getting a mammogram (x-ray of the breast) can help find the cancer earlier, which gives women more treatment options and improves chances for survival.


Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic American/Latina women. Hispanic whites are more likely to be diagnosed with tumors that are more advanced than are non-Hispanic whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders. Women of Mexican, South and Central American, and Puerto Rican descent are 20% to 260% more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer when compared to non-Hispanic women. When looking at breast cancer treatment, Puerto Rican women fare the worst, as they are 50% more likely to receive poor, inappropriate treatment. And Mexican women have 30% poorer survival rates when compared to non-Hispanic whites.


We do not know how to prevent breast cancer. There are things women can do to reduce their risk, such as limiting how much alcohol they drink. However, it's vital for women to take steps to find breast cancer if they have it:


Get a mammogram. It is the best way to find out if you have breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. It can find breast cancer that is too small for you or your doctor to feel. All women starting at age 40 should get a mammogram every one to two years. Discuss how often you need a mammogram with your doctor. If your mother or sister had breast cancer, be especially proactive about getting a mammogram. Have the mammogram done right after your period because it might be less painful and is more accurate than during your period. If you change mammography facilities or need a second opinion, be sure to get your original mammograms-not copies. Your doctor will need to compare past mammograms with current ones to see if there are any changes.

Get a clinical breast exam. This is a breast exam done by your doctor or nurse. He or she will check your breasts and underarms for any lumps, nipple discharge, or other changes. The breast exam should be part of a routine check up.

A breast self-exam and a clinical breast exam are not substitutes for mammograms.


Get to know your breasts. Some women check their own breasts for changes. If you find a change, it’s important to call your doctor or nurse for a visit. Make sure to watch the change you found until you see your provider.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) program provides free or low-cost breast cancer testing to women who don't have health insurance. Non-profit organizations and local health clinics are the main groups who provide the tests. To learn more about this program, please contact the CDC at 1-888-842-6355 or look on the Internet at www.cdc.gov/cancer


Last updated: January 2005

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