Researchers recently found that the language barrier in American hospitals is putting the lives of Latina breast cancer patients at risk. The researchers discovered a lack of Spanish-language resources for cancer patients. This can lead not only to a delay in diagnosis of breast cancer after mammograms, but also a failure to diagnose the disease altogether. These problems are causing Latinas to be diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer, and thus giving them less of a chance of survival.
Statistics from the American Cancer Society show the survival rate of Latinas upon diagnosis is 5% worse than white woman. Breast cancer is the leading form of diagnosed cancer among this group. A recently published study among six cities across America found that it takes Latina women more than twice as long as white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
The language barrier between patients and their physicians is proving to be a leading problem in combating the disease. It can be difficult for Latinas to interpret the results of a mammogram and determine whether they need to follow up with a doctor. They also may not understand the treatment options available.
Despite the real world problems faced by the language barrier, doctors and other health care professions must be held responsible for a misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of a disease as deadly and wide-spread as breast cancer. Latinos in Oregon need to be aware that they have legal rights if they are the victims of medical malpractice. A malpractice claim can give victims a legal recourse against negligent health care professionals.
Source: KATU, "Language barrier puts Latina breast cancer patients at risk," Rose Egge, March 26, 2013