Cultural considerations for South Asian women with breast cancer

J Cancer Surviv. 2016 Feb;10(1):31-50. doi: 10.1007/s11764-015-0449-8. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Purpose: Cultural values shape a woman's experience of disease and introduce novel stressors that influence psychosocial needs and adaptation. This literature review examines the psychosocial impact of breast cancer in South Asian women, a large group that has received little attention in this regard.

Methods: We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature published before April 2014 using Ovid MEDLINE, PsychINFO, PubMED, CINHAL, EMBASE, and Sociological Abstracts. We searched for articles about the psychosocial impact of breast cancer in South Asian women. We retained 23 studies for review.

Results: The literature concerning South Asian women's experiences identified culturally linked themes that play significant roles in shaping the illness experience; e.g., stigma and breast cancer, low priority of women's health, collective experience of disease, and religion and spirituality.

Conclusion: There is a growing need for culturally sensitive care for South Asian women. By understanding the core cultural values and integrating them into clinical practice, Western healthcare providers may improve the quality of care they deliver and help women to extract the maximum benefit.

Implications for cancer survivors: Developing culturally competent support services may enhance effectiveness in addressing the healthcare needs of South Asian women and may serve other ethnic minorities in North America.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Culture; Psychosocial impact; South Asian women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Asian People* / ethnology
  • Asian People* / psychology
  • Asian People* / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Survivors* / psychology
  • Survivors* / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology