Breast Cancer Prevention Among Immigrant Women: Disparities in Cancer Related Risks and Barriers to Prevention
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women of all ages in the United States. In spite of increasing awareness about the risk of breast cancer, very low levels of participation in cancer screening tests among certain immigrant groups persist. Previous research highlights that the persistent disparities in breast cancer outcomes among population groups are mainly determined by a lack of awareness about breast cancer risks, and the disparate access to health preventative care. Nonetheless, health science scholars suggest that the usual mechanisms associated to breast cancer prevention are not enough to explain the disparities in cancer screening attendance among population groups. Therefore, additional factors should be considered. The main purpose of this dissertation was to examine the way that migration processes influence and shape the cancer prevention behaviors of immigrant women in the United States. This dissertation connects with past research, by proposing an innovative approach that analyses the cancer prevention behaviors of all major immigrant groups in the U.S. simultaneously. Further, it considers the influence of region of origin, acculturation, and familial cancer experiences on the cancer prevention behaviors of immigrant women.
The main findings show that significant disparities in the odds of preventing breast cancer exist not only between immigrant and natives, but also within immigrant groups. Further, the adoption of cancer prevention behaviors of immigrant women can be influenced by multiple factors. Thereby, immigrant's socioeconomic characteristics, acculturation levels, and cancer family history are all significantly associated with the prevention of the disease. Finally, this research has shown that the assimilation trajectories of immigrants are highly related with a disparate access to economic and social resources, and eventually, these trajectories have an impact on the behaviors related to the prevention of breast cancer. In future research, it would be essential to recognize these differences in order to fully understand the impact of immigrant experiences on their health related outcomes.