Introduction: The Latino population is the most rapidly growing ethnic minority in the United States and Latinas have higher rates of advanced breast cancer and more rigorous treatments than White women. However, the literature lacks reviews on quality of life among this population of breast cancer patients.
Methods: A systematic review of the breast cancer quality of life (QOL) literature was conducted among studies that provided a comparison of mental, physical, social, or sexual QOL between Latinas and other racial/ethnic groups. Of the 375 studies reviewed, 20 quantitative studies and two qualitative studies met criteria for inclusion.
Results: Latinas were more likely to report poor mental, physical, and social QOL, relative to non-Latinas. Only four studies assessed sexual QOL, making it difficult to draw any conclusions. Of these four QOL domains, the largest disparity was found in the area of mental health in which Latinas reported poorer QOL compared to non-Latina Whites and Blacks.
Discussion/conclusions: Most quantitative studies revealed either that Latinas consistently evidenced significantly lower QOL than non-Latinas on all measures (6 studies) or reported mixed findings in which Latinas generally demonstrated significantly worse QOL on most, but not all, measures (12 studies) included in the study. Explanatory mechanisms including socio-demographic, treatment-related, and culturally-relevant factors are discussed. Implications for research design, measurement, and clinical work are also included.
Implications for cancer survivors: Although not entirely consistent, data suggest that Latina breast cancer survivors on average experience worse QOL than non-Latina Whites. Understanding ethnic differences in QOL among breast cancer survivors can inform interventions targeted at improving health status for Latinas.