To assess whether timing of initial post-diagnosis cancer care differs between American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) and non-Hispanic White (NHW) patients, we accessed SEER-Medicare data for breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers (2001-2007). Medicare claims data were examined for initiation of cancer-directed treatment. Overall, AI/ANs experienced longer median times to starting treatment than NHWs (45 and 39 days, p < .001) and lower rates of treatment initiation (HR[95%CI]: 0.86[0.79-0.93]). Differences were largest for prostate (HR: 0.80[0.71-0.89]) and smallest for breast cancer (HR: 0.96[0.83-1.11]). American Indians / Alaska Natives also had elevated odds of greater than 10 weeks between diagnosis and treatment compared with NHWs (OR[95% CI]: 1.37[1.16-1.63]), especially for prostate cancer (OR: 1.41[1.14-1.76]). Adjustment for comorbidity and socio-demographic factors attenuated associations except for prostate cancer. In this insured population, we observed evidence that AI/ANs start cancer therapy later than NHWs. The modest magnitude of delays suggests that they are unlikely to be a determinant of survival disparities.
Indigenous traditional healing is an ancient, deeply rooted, complex holistic health care system practiced by indigenous people worldwide. However, scant information exists to explain the phenomenon of indigenous medicine and indigenous health. Even less is known about how indigenous healing takes place. The purpose of this study is to describe the meaning and essence of the lived experience of 4 indigenous people who have been diagnosed with cancer and have used indigenous traditional healing during their healing journey. The researcher used a qualitative phenomenological methodology to collect and analyze interview data. Interviews were conducted with 4 self-identified indigenous people, ages 49 to 61, from diverse tribes. Time since cancer diagnosis varied from 2 to 20 years; types of cancer included lung, prostate, sarcoma of the leg, and breast. Four themes and 2 subthemes emerged (1) receiving the cancer diagnosis (with subthemes of knowing something was wrong and hearing something was wrong), (2) seeking healing, (3) connecting to indigenous culture, and (4) contemplating life's future. This study demonstrates that 4 individuals with cancer integrated Western medicine and traditional healing to treat their cancer. This knowledge provides necessary data about the phenomena of being healed by indigenous healers. Such data may serve as an initial guide for health care professionals while interacting with indigenous people diagnosed with cancer. Accordingly, traditional healing may be used to decrease health disparities.
The breast cancer experiences of Punjabi immigrant women, who represent the most populace group of South Asians in Canada, need to be understood in order to inform culturally appropriate cancer services. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore women's stories of breast cancer in order to uncover how they made sense of their experiences. Interviews with twelve Punjabi immigrant women who had breast cancer within the last 8 years were available for this study. The four storylines that emerged from the ethnographic narrative analysis were: getting through a family crisis, dealing with just another health problem, living with never-ending fear and suffering, and learning a "lesson from God." A minor theme, "being part of a close-knit family," highlighted the family context as the most pronounced influence on the women's experiences. These findings provide valuable insights into how women's experiences of breast cancer were shaped by the intersections of culture, family, community, cancer treatments, and interactions with health care professionals.
Despite some recognition that Aboriginal women who have experienced breast cancer may have unique health needs, little research has documented the experiences of Aboriginal women from their perspective. Our main objective was to explore and to begin to make visible Aboriginal women's experiences with breast cancer using the qualitative research technique, photovoice. The research was based in Saskatchewan, Canada and participants were Aboriginal women who had completed breast cancer treatment. Although Aboriginal women cannot be viewed as a homogeneous group, participants indicated two areas of priority for health-care: (i) Aboriginal identity and traditional beliefs, although expressed in diverse ways, are an important dimension of breast cancer experiences and have relevance for health-care; and (ii) there is a need for multidimensional support which addresses larger issues of racism, power and socioeconomic inequality. We draw upon a critical and feminist conception of visuality to interrogate and disrupt the dominant visual terrain (both real and metaphorical) where Aboriginal women are either invisible or visible in disempowering ways. Aboriginal women who have experienced breast cancer must be made visible within health-care in a way that recognizes their experiences situated within the structural context of marginalization through colonial oppression.