Latinos face lower cancer survival rates than rest of population

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Studies suggest that Latinos are more likely to neglect a lot of the risk factors for cancer, leading to higher cancer rates than the rest of the population.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Latino children. Latinos also suffer disproportionately from obesity, a major risk factor for some cancers.

In the last decade, oncologists have researched and discovered treatments for many forms of the disease — so much so that more than half of those diagnosed with cancer will survive.

But survival rates are much lower when it comes to Spanish-speaking, low-income and uninsured people. They face a lack of access to preventive and early care — and targeting clinical trials to them remains a challenge for some doctors who treat large numbers of Latinos.

“This is where the science and the service need to meet," said Ysabel Duron, founder of the advocacy group Latinas Contra Cancer. "Because the science has yet to do, I think, a huge amount of the research around environmental determinants”

Duron has been cancer-free for 11 years.

“There’s so much we don’t know about the toxins we’re faced with," she said during a speaking engagement aimed at immigrants. "But there are also food deserts, a lack of access to fruits and vegetables and safe places to go to the park; smoking, second-hand smoke...”

In her work among Latinos, Duron has noticed that many would rather skip doctor visits than hear of a cancer diagnosis. She says misinformation remains the biggest obstacle to treatment.

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