Latina breast cancer survivors' lived experiences: diagnosis, treatment, and beyond

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2008 Apr;14(2):163-7. doi: 10.1037/1099-9809.14.2.163.


Latina breast cancer survivors are not benefiting from advances in psychosocial interventions. Despite their greater breast cancer burden, there is a dearth of information about this population. This qualitative study examined the experiences of 18 immigrant Latina breast cancer survivors along the survivorship continuum, from diagnosis to long-term survivorship. The authors conducted separate focus groups with women in the acute, reentry, and long-term survivorship stages. Through grounded theory analysis, the authors uncovered 5 themes of experience: perceptions of psychological well-being, impact of diagnosis, impact of treatment, need for social support, and development of new attitudes. Some themes were applicable across all survivorship stages, whereas others were more salient at a particular stage. Within themes, the authors identified experiences reported in the general literature (i.e., the debilitating effect of chemotherapy) and distinct cultural experiences (i.e., fear that a cancer diagnosis leads to certain death). Results suggest that treatments tailored for each survivorship stage are more likely to be effective than generic interventions. These findings have the potential to lessen health disparities in utilization of psychosocial treatments by Latina breast cancer survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Medical Indigency / ethnology
  • Medical Indigency / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Support
  • Survivors / psychology*