Projects Focus On Breast, Cervical Cancer Risk Among Women

Armen Hareyan's picture

Researchers in New Mexico are lookinginto increased risk of breast and cervical cancers for women livingalong the New Mexico-Mexico border, the LasCruces Sun-News reports.

John Moraros of the NewMexico State University Department ofHealth Science, said, "Hispanic women on the U.S.-Mexicoborder are more likely to die of cervical cancer and breast cancerthan women who live elsewhere in the U.S. or Mexico. Lowparticipation by Latinas in early detection screening programs is aserious problem. That puts women at risk because often the diseasesaren't diagnosed until they are very advanced and treatment optionsare less effective."


Moraros is studying cervicalcancer, while his wife, Yelena Bird, is looking into breast cancerunder a grant from the Center forBorder Health Research. He is analyzing the DNA of the humanpapillomavirus to determine which types of infection are most commonin southern New Mexico and the northern Chihuahua border. A report byMoraros said, "Research has demonstrated that cervical cancer iscaused by a sexually transmitted infection involving the humanpapilloma virus. About 10% of the women on the border have abnormalPap smears and of this number, 10% have HPV that, if left untreated,can lead to cancer."

Hugo Vilchis, director of New MexicoState University's Border Epidemiologyand Environmental Health Center, is conducting a study todetermine whether promotoras, or health promoters, can increase thenumber of Hispanic women receiving Pap tests and following up onabnormal results. Vilchis said, "We will teach between six andeight promotoras basic information about Pap smears. We will preparematerials for them that they can use to teach Hispanic women between21 and 65 years old about the importance of getting Pap smears. Andthe promotoras will play the role of extended family member, helpingthe women get to their doctors."

According to Vilchis,"In the Latin American culture, it's important for women inparticular to have company with them when they go to the doctors.Family or extended family support is very important. But some womenmay 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 Institutegrant (Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, 1/9).

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.