Nav: Home

A new study explores concerns of African American breast cancer survivors

September 01, 2016

(PHILADELPHIA) - Although there is some overlap, past research has shown that the challenges faced by African American breast cancer survivors differ somewhat from Caucasian women. But the studies that demonstrated difference were not designed to explore those challenges in depth. Now new research from Thomas Jefferson University helps identify problems that are important to African American women - a first step in creating programs that better serve the needs of the community, and which could help reduce cancer disparities and improve health outcomes.

"We know that 21 percent of African American women with breast cancer don't survive five years past their diagnosis, compared to only eight percent of Caucasian women. We wanted to explore whether the problems they experience after their first round of treatment might contribute to that disparity," says lead author Andrea Barsevick, Ph.D., R.N., a Professor in Medical Oncology and researcher at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University. The study was published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer.

In order to understand the experience of African American breast cancer survivors, the researchers conducted eight focus groups with 60 survivors to learn what was most important to them. One of the ideas that came up in every focus group was the problem of medical mistrust. Women expressed concern that the information they received was inferior to Caucasians leaving them less prepared to deal with survivor challenges after treatment completion.

Findings from the focus groups were used to refine a survey of survivor problems to be distributed to African American survivors. A survey of 31 survivor concerns that had been validated previously was modified to include 20 new items based on the focus group discussions. Questions about medical mistrust were also added to the survey based on concerns raised in the focus groups. The survey was mailed to over a thousand African American cancer survivors, of which 297 completed surveys were returned (a response rate comparable to other studies). Respondents rated problems like, "Feeling less feminine," or "fatigue, loss of strength," or "being treated as different from others," as "not a problem, somewhat of a problem, or a severe problem."

The researchers found that survivor problems reported in this survey could be grouped into four categories of concern: emotional, physical, resource, and sexual problems. Previous research using this survey identified physical, emotional, and economic concerns in a mixed group of cancer survivors (mixed race, gender, and cancer diagnosis).

In addition, the importance of these groups of problems varied between survey participants. For example, younger women reported more concerns overall than older women, women who had two or more chronic conditions in addition to cancer also reported a higher number of survivor problems. And women with higher levels of medical mistrust also had more survivor problems.

Does this suggest that survivor problems are being caused by mistrust or that younger women are at greater risk for problems than older women? "Not necessarily" says co-author Amy Leader, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. an assistant professor of Medical Oncology and research at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center who collaborated on this research. "The associations aren't causal, but they do show us how much diversity there is within the African American women as a group, and that it will be important to craft different approaches to address the needs of different parts of the community. For example, different types of educational resources may be needed by younger versus older survivors. And for all of them, educational materials and resources should be culturally tailored to African American survivors."

"Combating cancer disparities in the African American community will take a multi-faceted approach," says co-author Patricia K. Bradley, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., associate professor in the College of Nursing at Villanova University. "This research is the first step toward bridging the gap in care after initial cancer treatment is completed."

"African American survivors have taught us what's important to them," says Dr. Barsevick. She and her colleagues are now working with a panel of local advisors to create a tailored survivorship care plan that includes resources and coping methods addressing the concerns that are most important to African American women.
-end-
Article Reference: A.M. Barsevick, et al., "Post-treatment problems of African American breast cancer survivors," Support Care Cancer, DOI: 10.1007/s00520-016-3359-z, 2016.

This study was funded by the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant, RSGT #10-243-01 and National Cancer Institute, K01 CA184288. The authors report no conflicts of interest.

For more information, contact Edyta Zielinska, 215-955-5291, edyta.zielinska@jefferson.edu.

About Jefferson

Jefferson, through its academic and clinical entities of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, is reimagining health care for the greater Philadelphia region and southern New Jersey. Since its mergers with Abington Health and Aria Health, Jefferson now has 23,000 people dedicated to providing the highest-quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educating the health professionals of tomorrow, and discovering new treatments and therapies to define the future of care. With a university and hospital that date to 1824, today Jefferson is comprised of six colleges, eight hospitals, 24 outpatient and urgent care locations, and a multitude of physician practices throughout the region, serving more than 96,000 inpatients, 363,000 emergency patients and 1.9 million outpatient visits annually.

For more information and a complete listing of Jefferson services and locations, visit http://www.jefferson.edu.

Thomas Jefferson University

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, Second Edition: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery
by Rebecca Katz (Author), Mat Edelson (Author)

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Author)

Anticancer: A New Way of Life
by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD (Author)

The Truth about Cancer: What You Need to Know about Cancer's History, Treatment, and Prevention
by Ty M Bollinger (Author)

F*ck Cancer: A totally inappropriate self-affirming adult coloring book (Totally Inappropriate Series) (Volume 4)
by Jen Meyers (Author)

The Metabolic Approach to Cancer: Integrating Deep Nutrition, the Ketogenic Diet, and Nontoxic Bio-Individualized Therapies
by Dr. Nasha Winters ND FABNO L.Ac Dipl.OM (Author), Jess Higgins Kelley MNT (Author), Kelly Turner (Foreword)

Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do: 2013 Edition
by Greg Anderson (Author)

Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds
by Kelly A. Turner PhD (Author)

Cancer: Step Outside the Box
by Ty M. Bollinger (Author)

Cancer Hates Tea: A Unique Preventive and Transformative Lifestyle Change to Help Crush Cancer
by Maria Uspenski (Author), Dr. Mary L. Hardy (Foreword)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why We Hate
From bullying to hate crimes, cruelty is all around us. So what makes us hate? And is it learned or innate? This hour, TED speakers explore the causes and consequences of hate — and how we can fight it. Guests include reformed white nationalist Christian Picciolini, CNN commentator Sally Kohn, podcast host Dylan Marron, and writer Anand Giridharadas.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#483 Wild Moms
This week we're talking about what it takes to be a mother in the wild, and how how human moms compare to other moms in the animal kingdom. We're spending an hour with Dr. Carin Bondar, prolific science communicator and author. We'll be discussing a myriad of stories from her latest book, "Wild Moms: Motherhood in the Animal Kingdom", covering the exciting, stressful and even sinister sides of motherhood.