Lurie Cancer Center Launches Hispanic Breast Cancer Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
The clinic offers personalized breast cancer care from a multidisciplinary Spanish-speaking team
In the United States, breast cancer incidence in Hispanic women is 28 percent lower than in non-Hispanic white women, who have the highest incidence rate. Despite these lower occurrence rates, Hispanic women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and have a 30 percent higher mortality rate highlighting the significant health disparities this population faces when it comes to accessing high-quality breast cancer care and screening.
“What we see in the Hispanic community is that the women are being diagnosed at later stages, even though their diagnosis tends to be at a younger age,” says Claudia Tellez, MD, a medical oncologist at Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Medicine. “And because they’re being diagnosed at a later stage, their cancers are generally more aggressive, and the prognosis is less favorable.”
Dr. Tellez is working to change this by breaking down barriers and providing Chicago’s Hispanic women with better access to breast cancer screening, treatment and research with the recently launched Lurie Cancer Center Hispanic Breast Cancer Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“Many Hispanic women in Chicago struggle to access care or are not receiving the highest standard of care because of language barriers, financial limitations and other factors,” says Dr. Tellez, medical director of the new clinic. “Our team is dedicated to addressing these disparities and improving access by providing culturally sensitive care, bilingual support, and educational resources tailored to the needs of Hispanic patients.”
Led by Dr. Tellez, who is a native of Colombia, the Hispanic Breast Cancer Clinic offers personalized care from a multidisciplinary team of breast cancer experts, supportive care specialists and administrative staff who all speak Spanish. The core clinic team includes a physician, nurse, medical assistant, social worker and research assistant.
“Getting a breast cancer diagnosis is scary and overwhelming – even more so when you can’t access care in your preferred language,” says Dr. Tellez. “Patients who come to us can expect a safe and welcoming environment where each person they encounter – starting from their first phone call through their treatment – will speak Spanish. We want every patient to be confident in her treatment plan and feel comfortable communicating with a care team that embraces her culture and speaks her preferred language.”
One of Dr. Tellez’s goals with the new clinic is to increase the number of Hispanic patients participating in clinical trials for breast cancer, an area where they are consistently underrepresented.
“Breast cancer patients that are Hispanic represent about a third in the city of Chicago. A third of the patients that we’re seeing for clinical trials should be Hispanic,” says Dr. Tellez “And yet, we see less than 10 percent Hispanic patients participating in clinical trials in the city of Chicago. And for pharmaceutical company trials, it’s even lower at around 2.5 percent.”
In addition to often being diagnosed younger and with later stage cancers, Hispanic women are at higher-risk for triple-negative breast cancer and HER-2 positive breast cancer, aggressive subtypes of the disease that require a targeted, specific treatment plan.
“There are distinctive features about Hispanic women with breast cancer. For instance, they have subtypes of breast cancer that are unique, and we need to be aware of that and treat them accordingly,” says Dr. Tellez. “Participation in clinical trials often means access to new drugs or treatments that aren’t available otherwise. More participation and representation also create an opportunity for clinical trials that are very specific to those subtypes, such as triple negative, and can help improve treatments for the disease.”
Community outreach and partnerships with Hispanic health advocates will be an important element to the success of the new Hispanic Breast Cancer Clinic.
“We’re working with community groups and health advocates who are known and trusted in the community. Together, we want to ensure that Hispanic women are knowledgeable about the importance of regular screenings and early detection,” says Dr. Tellez. “And if they need care, we’re here and ready to help. Our goal is to ensure that every patient who walks through our door has the information, education and resources needed for the best possible outcome in their breast cancer journey,”
On Saturday, October 28, Dr. Tellez will participate in Lurie Cancer Center’s annual Breast Cancer Community Forum for Hispanic women. The event will feature educational presentations in Spanish about breast cancer, followed by an interactive discussion with a panel of experts who will answer questions about treatments, surgeries, as well as the emotions and challenges faced by cancer survivors. The event is free and open to the public. Register online: Foro Comunitario Sobre Cáncer de Seno.
B-ROLL, SOUNDBITES & PHOTOS: Hispanic Breast Cancer Clinic - Dropbox
VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL DEL COMUNICADO DE PRENSA: El Centro Oncológico Lurie lanza una clínica hispana de cáncer de mama en el Northwestern Memorial Hospital
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