Breast and cervical cancer screening among South Asian immigrants in the United States

Cancer Nurs. 2012 Jul-Aug;35(4):278-87. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31822fcab4.


Background: South Asian (SA) immigrants (from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) constitute the fastest growing of all Asian American immigrants to the United States, with a growth rate of 106% from 1990 to 2001. Data are lacking on health behaviors of this population subgroup, including cancer-related information.

Objective: : The purpose of this study was to assess rates and correlates of breast and cervical cancer screening in a community sample of SAs.

Methods: Participants were recruited from among attendees of 3 community-based agency programs. Data were collected in English, Hindi, and Gujarati from a convenience sample of 198 participants.

Results: Two-thirds of the sample (n = 127, 65.5%) had ever had a mammogram, whereas only a third (n = 65, 32.8%) had ever had a Papanicolaou smear or vaginal examination. Several predisposing factors (eg, country of birth, years in the United States, acculturation, age, and acknowledged barriers to screening) were significant predictors of breast and cervical screening, whereas the only enabling factor was past screening behavior.

Conclusions: Additional study is warranted on cultural aspects of cancer screening behaviors. These data are formative on facilitators and barriers to mammogram and Papanicolaou test completion among these understudied minority women.

Implications for practice: Nurses who practice in primary care may begin to target health education based on sociodemographics of SA women and emphasize discussion of barriers to screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Asian / psychology*
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*