Photo: BRCA Breast Cancer Genetic Testing for Latinas
Genetic testing for breast cancer may facilitate better-informed decisions regarding cancer prevention, risk reduction, more effective early detection, and better determination of risk for family members.
Despite these potential benefits, significant portions of the US population—particularly Latinas—lack awareness of genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility. Among women who are tested, less than 4% are Latina.
To uncover reasons for Latinas’ low participation, this study explored awareness, attitudes and behavioral intentions to undergo genetic testing among Latinas along the Texas-Mexico border.
Participants mostly had less than a high-school education (43%), spoke primarily Spanish (52%), were of Mexican-American origin (90%) and had a family income of $30,000 or less (75%).
Focus groups found that most participants had positive attitudes and strong interest in genetic testing, yet lacked general awareness and knowledge about genetic testing, its risks, benefits, and limitations. Participants also identified several key cultural based influencers, such as family, religious beliefs and fear of testing.
The study concluded that the delivery of culturally adapted risk information is needed to increase and ensure Latinas’ understanding of breast cancer genetic testing during their decision-making processes.
Key Latino values—religiosity, importance of family and the influential role of health care providers in health decisions—should also be considered when designing interventions targeting this specific group. Further research is needed to identify effective ways to communicate genetic risk susceptibility information to Latinas to help them make informed testing decisions.