Research Projects Focus on Breast, Cervical Cancer Risk Among Women Living on U.S.-Mexico Border
Researchers in New Mexico are looking into increased risk of breast and cervical cancers for women living along the New Mexico-Mexico border, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.
John Moraros of the New Mexico State University Department of Health Science, said, "Hispanic women on the U.S.-Mexico border are more likely to die of cervical cancer and breast cancer than women who live elsewhere in the U.S. or Mexico. Low participation by Latinas in early detection screening programs is a serious problem. That puts women at risk because often the diseases aren't diagnosed until they are very advanced and treatment options are less effective."
Moraros is studying cervical cancer, while his wife, Yelena Bird, is looking into breast cancer under a grant from the Center for Border Health Research. He is analyzing the DNA of the human papillomavirus to determine which types of infection are most common in southern New Mexico and the northern Chihuahua border. A report by Moraros said, "Research has demonstrated that cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted infection involving the human papilloma virus. About 10% of the women on the border have abnormal Pap smears and of this number, 10% have HPV that, if left untreated, can lead to cancer."
Hugo Vilchis, director of New Mexico State University's Border Epidemiology and Environmental Health Center, is conducting a study to determine whether promotoras, or health promoters, can increase the number of Hispanic women receiving Pap tests and following up on abnormal results. Vilchis said, "We will teach between six and eight promotoras basic information about Pap smears. We will prepare materials for them that they can use to teach Hispanic women between 21 and 65 years old about the importance of getting Pap smears. And the promotoras will play the role of extended family member, helping the women get to their doctors."
According to Vilchis, "In the Latin American culture, it's important for women in particular to have company with them when they go to the doctors. Family or extended family support is very important. But some women may have nobody to accompany them, so they won't go to the doctor." Vilchis' research is one of several projects funded by a five-year, National Cancer Institute grant (Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, 1/9).