State health data shows that rates of bladder, lung, and colon cancer have edged up among Latinos in Rhode Island compared to whites. A conference hosted by the statewide Latino Cancer Control Task Force this week aimed to explore some of the reasons. Task force member Doctor Joseph Diaz is investigating screening rates for colon cancer.
“There’s probably about a 15 to 20 percent difference in screening rates for Latinos versus non-Latinos,” said Diaz. “So, Latinos have lower screening rates. And for colon cancer specifically, it’s really important because colon cancer screening can really prevent colon cancer.”
Diaz said there are a variety of reasons for the lower rates of cancer screenings among Latinos.
“We find that people that don’t speak English don’t have the same access to preventive care services,” said Diaz. “There’s some cultural issues, and some attitudes and beliefs about what colon cancer is, how colon, what the causes of colon cancer are, so we’ve been trying to tease through a number of those factors.”
Diaz, who is also Memorial Hospital’s chief of medicine, says there are several efforts underway in Rhode Island to reach out to Latinos and increase screening rates.
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