Cancer Surgeon Aims To Provide Culturally Sensitive Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Boston Globeon Monday profiled Jane Mendez, a breast cancer surgeon at BostonMedical Center, who twice a week cares for primarily uninsuredminority women at the Belken Breast Health Center. About 60% of thepatients Mendez cares for are Hispanic, and many others are fromcountries such as Cape Verde, Haiti or Vietnam.


Mendez grewup in a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and earned her medicaldegree from the MountSinai School of Medicine. Mendez, who speaks Spanish and French,said, "In my training, it was frustrating for me when the doctorwouldn't speak the language, for example Spanish, and all of thesudden they didn't take the time to really figure out what was wrongwith the patients. ... It really bothered me that they would labelthe patients as ignorant and they wouldn't really attend to what theyneeded."

In treating her patients, Mendez aims to beculturally sensitive and recognize that some aspects of breast cancerare taboo in various cultures. She said, "If [patients are] notgoing to comply with what I recommend because of cultural issues,cultural biases or because we can't communicate, that's half thebattle" (Jones, Boston Globe, 1/7).

Reprinted with permission can view the entire KaiserWeekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives,and sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report ispublished for, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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