Asian American women get breast cancer too.
Health Equity in Breast Cancer for Asian American Pacific Islander women – Policy Brief:
Research is showing that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Asian American and Pacific Islander women (Matsuno, 2011) and the incidence and mortality rates of breast cancer in AAPI women are rising more than any other racial/ethnic group (Oh, 2012).
The risk of death for Asian American women with breast cancer is 1.5 to 1.7 times higher than that of white women with cancer and has been the number one killer of Asian American women since 1980 (Foo, 2010). In Minnesota, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer (MDH, 2001).
When Asian women migrate to the U.S., “their risk of developing breast cancer increases up to six- fold (Ziegler, 1993). There are many barriers that face AAPI women, especially refugee women, and this includes racism, daily discrimination, cultural incompetence of health professionals, language barriers, lack of health insurance and extraordinary trauma resulting from their experiences of war.
Misinformation about breast cancer that creates fear and denial is another serious barrier to health. For example, there is a common notion that female organs cease to function if they are not used for procreation and therefore are not susceptible to disease and the belief that cancer is inevitably fatal. (Foo, 2010).
Researchers pointed out the following consequences:
• Later diagnoses: Compared to all other women in the United States, Asian-American women are the least likely to have ever had a mammogram.
• Earlier death: Asian American women in California were younger at hospitalization and younger at death from breast cancer than white and Latina women.
• 41 percent of Asian women were diagnosed when cancer had already spread beyond the breast, resulting in higher death rates.
Although Asian American women have the lowest death rate from breast cancer compared to other racial groups of women, when breast cancer data is dis-aggregated into ethnic groups of Asian Americans, disparities become obvious.
• Japanese-American women have the highest breast cancer rate among Asian-American women.
• Filipina-American women had the second highest incidence (102.4/100,000) and the highest mortality (17.5/100,000) rate for breast cancer compared to any other Asian American ethnic group.
• Native Hawaiian women have the third highest rate of dying from breast cancer, and it is increasing.
• Implications: 1. Breast cancer is a very real threat to Asian American women of all ages in Minnesota 2. Asian American refugee women are going to experience an increase in the incidence of breast cancer
1. Create current policies with a health equity analysis to produce the best policies for all Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
2. Increase research on breast cancer in all ethnic groups of Asian American women to identify Asian American communities that need to be targeted for specific breast cancer services.
3. Increase research on Southeast Asian women refugees showing the relationship of post-traumatic stress and breast cancer.
4. Provide funds to Asian American ethnic agencies to outreach to their communities to dispel myths and encourage breast cancer screenings and services.
5. Train community health workers from the ethnic communities to provide culturally competent care and better access to preventive care and high quality cancer care.
Hundreds of local breast cancer survivors, volunteers, businesses and community members will unite to fight breast cancer and save lives at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 3-mile walk.
This noncompetitive, inspirational event raises awareness and funds to fight breast cancer and provides hope to all people facing the disease. St. Cloud, MN’s Making Strides walk is one of more than 200 walks being held across the country this year.
More than 200,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, and more than 40,000 will die from the disease that is the number one killer of Asian American women since 1980. Research is showing that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among AAPI women and the incidence rates and mortality rates of breast cancer are rising more than any other racial/ethnic group.
Funds raised through Making Strides will help the American Cancer Society save lives and create more birthdays by helping people stay well by taking steps to prevent cancer or find it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking research; and by fighting back by encouraging lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight.