Subscribe to minority women's health email updates.
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow, divide, and spread. In most cancers, these abnormal cells form a mass called a tumor. (Not all tumors are cancer.) Cancers found in the blood or immune system do not form tumors. Most cancers are named for where they start. For example, lung cancer starts in the lung, and breast cancer starts in the breast. But cancers can spread. They can invade nearby tissues and organs. Or, they can break away and spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms and treatment depend on the cancer type and how advanced it is.
Latinos have lower rates of new cancer cases than other minority groups. And, when you combine all types of cancer, they have lower death rates compared to other groups. But Latinos have higher rates of certain cancers that are linked to infections. These include cancers of the stomach, liver, and cervix.
A number of factors can affect a woman's cancer risk. Some factors, such as getting older and family history, cannot be controlled. Yet, you can lower your risk of some cancers by changing some aspects of your life:
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, try to quit. For help along the way, check out our Quitting Smoking section.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Eat healthy foods. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Make physical activity a habit. Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity
- Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week
- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day.
Women also can protect themselves from cancer by getting regular checkups and screenings. Screening tests can help find cancers such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer. This way, if cancer develops, it is likely to be found early. Treatment often works best when cancer is found early. Also, there is a vaccine that can protect women from infections that can cause cervical cancer.
Many Latinos don't get routine screening tests or checkups. Not having health insurance, a regular doctor, or ability to pay are important reasons why Latinos have lower screening rates. Some people don't understand risk factors for cancer or the benefits of screening. One study found that many Latinas think that nothing can be done to stop breast cancer, so they do not get screening. These reasons also explain why some Latinos don't always stick with cancer treatment once cancer is found.
We don't always know why one person develops cancer and another does not. Yet with a healthy lifestyle and routine screening, you will feel good knowing you are doing what you can to lower your cancer risk.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Ovarian Cancer Fact Sheet — This fact sheet explains what ovarian cancer is, why you should be concerned about it, and where you can get more information.
Explore other publications and websites
Cancer Health Disparities in Hispanics/Latinos (Copyright © University of Texas Health Sciences Center) — This publication discusses the continuing disparities that exist in illness and death from cancer experienced by Hispanics/Latinos compared to the U.S. population as a whole.
Colorectal Cancer Screening — This publication gives information on colorectal cancer and its risk factors. It also describes the tests commonly used to screen for colorectal cancer and the benefits and risks of screening.
Financial Assistance and Other Resources for People With Cancer — This Internet site provides links to financial information, legal information, and insurance information for people who have cancer.
Inside Knowledge Campaign: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer — This site is designed to spread awareness to women about the different types of gynecological cancers. With early detection, treatments for gynecological cancers are very effective.
Liver Cancer Overview (Copyright © American Cancer Society) — This online publication provides an overview of liver cancer. It defines liver cancer and talks about risk factors. It also explains why early detection and diagnosis are so important for treatment.
Reducing Health Disparities in Cancer — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a number of strategies to help decrease the amount of inequalities seen among minorities. This brief fact sheet describes these efforts.
What You Need to Know About Cancer — An Overview — This publication describes some of the warning signs of cancer and stresses the importance of early detection. It also explains how this disease is diagnosed and treated and has information to help people deal with cancer if it affects them or people they know.
What You Need To Know About Stomach Cancer — This booklet on stomach cancer discusses symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, emotional issues, and questions to ask the doctor. It also includes a glossary of terms and a list of other resources.
Connect with other organizations
American Cancer Society
Foundation for Women's Cancer
National Alliance for Hispanic Health
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
Explore otras publicaciones y sitios de Internet
Cáncer de estómago: Guía detallada (Copyright © American Cancer Society) — Este folleto ofrece información acerca el cáncer del estómago. A la vez discute los diferentes tipos de tumores y contiene algunas estadísticas sobre los casos de personas con cáncer de estómago.
El cáncer de hígado: preguntas y respuestas — Este folleto contiene información acerca del cáncer de hígado. Le explica la función del hígado y cómo es afectado a causa de cáncer. También lista los síntomas del cáncer de hígado, como se hace el diagnóstico y métodos de tratamiento.
Cáncer de pulmón de células no pequeñas: Tratamiento (PDQ®) — Profesionales — Esta publicación es para el profesional. Ofrece una descripción del cáncer de pulmón e incluye las etapas de desarrollo de la enfermedad.
Cáncer: puntos para considerar acerca del fin de la vida para quien provee cuidados (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — Esta publicación da consejos de lo que una persona que provee cuidado necesita pensar antes que su ser querido muera. También da recursos de otras organizaciones que pueden ayudar.
Conéctese con otras organizaciones
Cancer.gov en Español
Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades, HHS
Sociedad Americana del Cáncer
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. • Washington, DC 20201