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March 24, 2003


Emory Physician Receives Grant to Educate Hispanic Women About Breast Health

ATLANTA ­ The Department of Multicultural Affairs, under the direction of Inginia Genao, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital, has received a grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to educate Hispanic women about the importance of breast health. The grant will be used specifically to encourage Hispanic women to get regular mammograms and perform breast self-examinations, in hopes of decreasing breast cancer mortality rates.

The grant, which totals $49,971, is also an attempt to eliminate health care disparities for all ethnic groups, and to provide a culturally and linguistically competent program to address breast cancer education. The project will educate Hispanic women on the risk factors for breast cancer, screening processes, nutritional strategies to reduce cancer risk, and provide information on clinical trials.

"Breast cancer is one of the cancers that afflicts our Hispanic population, and we know that as part of prevention, education is the key," said Dr. Genao, director of Multicultural Affairs at Grady, who has spearheaded numerous Hispanic medical initiatives, including the International Primary Care Clinic, which serviced 450 Hispanic patients in 2002. "If we educate the women to do self breast exams and to know the importance of regular mammograms, they will comply."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, nearly 70 Hispanic women per 100,000 in 1997 were diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to 110 women of all races per 100,000. Breast cancer is less common among Hispanic women in the United States compared to women of all other ethnic groups, with the exception of American Indian/Alaska native women. However, breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women from 1992 to 1998.

In its publication, Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics 2000-2001, the American Cancer Society predicted that about 54,100 new cancer cases would be diagnosed among Hispanics and about 21,100 Hispanics would die of the disease. Cancer is the second leading single cause of death among Latinos of all ages, second only to heart disease. The report states that the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Hispanic men and women will be breast, prostate, lung and colorectal. The same four cancers account for the majority of cancer deaths in this population.

According to the 2002 Intercultural Cancer Council, only 38 percent of Hispanic women ages 40 and older have regular screening mammograms. Low screening participation rates make Hispanic women more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage of the disease when fewer treatment options are available, resulting in poorer outcomes and higher mortality.

The aim of the Cultural Touch project, as it is known, is to enrich Hispanic women attending the International Primary Care Clinic at Grady. The goals of the project are to provide a user-friendly, culturally appropriate vehicle for breast health information through the use of a computerized, touch-screen kiosk; determine knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and practices of breast health; inform women of the three components of breast health: clinical examination, mammography and self-breast examinations; and provide clinical breast exams for participants by bilingual providers in the International Primary Care Clinic. Community bilingual educators will provide follow up on all women, who in turn will be referred for mammography screening.

The project is expected to begin this summer. A research assistant will be hired and educated to use the kiosk, and will then administer a questionnaire to determine patients’ breast health knowledge and attitudes toward breast health. The research assistant will also educate women how to use the kiosk and then administer another questionnaire determining how much patients learned and whether they received mammograms and performed self-breast examinations.

"The main purpose of this project is for Hispanic women to get more mammograms, because mammograms save lives," Dr. Genao said. "We know that, but a lot of these women are not getting mammograms."

As part of the grant project, 20 free mammograms will be provided for women ages 40 and older. "That will be another barrier eliminated for women," Dr.. Genao said.

Although Hispanic women have lower breast cancer rates than black and white women, they nevertheless have a lower rate of mammography screening, Dr. Genao said. Breast cancer in Hispanic women is often detected later, and many Hispanic women have various conceptions or notions regarding mammograms.

"Some Hispanic women might believe that mammograms cause cancer," Dr. Genao said. "This educational tool will help women understand that mammograms do not cause cancer and are not that uncomfortable."

In terms of the project, Dr. Genao lauded the efforts of Emory faculty member Curtis Lewis, MD, an Emory School of Medicine assistant professor and chief of staff at Grady, and other Grady administrators for their support.

"These people have been very instrumental in getting us established," she said. "Without them, we wouldn’t be here."

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