Hispanic women at greatest risk of breast cancer

Free cancer screenings offered Sept 15
Free cancer screenings offered Sept 15

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — September 15 marks the official start of Hispanic Heritage Month, a time when we celebrate the heritage, culture, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. For some, it’s also a time to address certain healthcare disparities.

“Specifically with cancer,” said Beth Koksal of St. Catherine Hospital, “the sooner someone gets detected, the more treatment options there are for them, and their prognosis is much better.”

That’s the focus of an effort by Heartland Cancer Center: to provide free, walk-in cancer screenings for southwest Kansans on September 15. Early detection works.

Organizers say it’s important to provide access to certain doctors, like dermatologists, that are hard to find in this part of the state.

“We’ll be doing skin cancer checks,” said Koksal. “We’ll also be doing cervical cancer checks or pap smears. Breast exams are another big popular one, and then prostate exams for men.”

According to the Susan G. Koman Foundation, breast cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women, but Hispanic women over 40 are less likely to have regular mammograms than their non-Hispanic counterparts.

In a city that’s about 50 percent Latino, the free screenings can have a huge impact on public health.

“Certain minorities and certain parts of the population get screened less or they have higher incidence of breast cancer,” said Anis Toumeh, a medical oncologist.

The Susan G. Koman Foundation has worked to bridge the gap, saying Hispanic women tend to have more trouble accessing mammograms. They often face language or financial barriers or a lack of educational outreach to their community.

“It really has to do with educating the community,” said Toumeh. “Making sure everybody knows how important screening for breast cancer is.”

Screenings are available at the Heartland Cancer Center from 5:30 to 7:30 for skin, cervical, breast, and prostate cancers.

They are held on a first come, first serve basis, so hospital officials recommend getting there as close to 5:30 as possible.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month starts October 1.

The CDC says it’s the most common cancer among women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

It’s the number one cancer-related killer among Hispanic women, the number three cancer-related killer among American Indian women, and the number two cancer-related killer among white, black and Asian women.

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