Methods: The study examines beliefs about cancer and available treatment options among Latinos/as aged 60 years and older in the Tampa Bay Area. A survey administered in Spanish addressed five key areas of cancer awareness: knowledge, attitudes, prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment. Using convenience sampling (N = 200), 66% of those recruited were female and 34% were male; of these, 29% were Colombian, 24% were Puerto Rican, 11% were Cuban, and 30% were from other Latino groups. Participants’ median age was 68 years; median length of stay (LOS) in the US was 26 years, and 34% had a college education. Summary statistics were calculated for each interval and ratio variable, and binary logistic regression was used to determine whether age, gender, country of origin, or LOS had a significant effect on treatment preference.
Results: Male and female participants’ beliefs about cancer did not differ significantly. While older Latinos have some understanding of the causes of cancer, 59% expressed the belief that radiation, chemotherapy, and cancer-related surgery are dangerous. Most participants (92%) indicated that they would prefer to know if they had cancer, and that they would tell their friends and family if diagnosed with cancer (89%). Only 27% indicated that they would prefer to receive no treatment if they developed cancer in the future. Older Latinos/as may resist or avoid cancer treatment because of a lack of knowledge regarding outcomes. Most participants (82%) acknowledged that cancer patients need a psychologist (78%), and that being lively and positive improves the condition.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings suggest that older Latinos/as have some knowledge of the causes of cancer but lack knowledge regarding cancer treatment outcomes, which may explain why they are currently underrepresented as users of cancer treatment services. Attitudes about cancer vary depending on the educational level of older Latinos and may impact treatment decisions. These findings can be used to enhance information about cancer and education provided to older Latinos.
These findings will enable clinicians, researchers, healthcare organizations, and policy makers to more effectively comprehend knowledge about cancer among the under-served older Latino/as population and to apply that knowledge in daily practice and patient care. In particular, the findings can enhance the information provided to the Latino community about evidence-based interventions by demystifying cancer treatments, ensuring culturally competent intervention and psycho social care.