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Psychooncology. 2010 Oct;19(10):1069-77. doi: 10.1002/pon.1661.

Depression and sexual adjustment following breast cancer in low-income Hispanic and non-Hispanic White women.

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Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, USA.



Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group in the United States and breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Hispanic women. However, Hispanics are underrepresented in the psychosocial breast cancer literature.


This study included 677 low-income women (425 Hispanic, 252 non-Hispanic White) enrolled in the Medi-Cal Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. Data were gathered through phone interviews conducted in English or Spanish 6 and 18 months following breast cancer diagnosis. We focus on three variables that the literature indicates are salient for breast cancer survivors: sexual function, body image and depression.


Results of an ANCOVA indicated worse sexual function for Hispanic women, even after controlling for significant covariates. Hispanics reported significantly less sexual desire, greater difficulty relaxing and enjoying sex, and greater difficulty becoming sexually aroused and having orgasms than non-Hispanic White women. Both Hispanic and non-Hispanic White women endorsed a lack of sexual desire more frequently than problems with sexual function. Body image did not differ between Hispanic and non-Hispanic White women. In all, 38% of Hispanic and 48% of non-Hispanic White women scored above cut-off scores for depressive symptoms. While there was no ethnic difference in depressive symptoms, single women reported more depressive symptoms than partnered women.


Findings suggest that low-income breast cancer survivors may experience symptoms of depression more than a year following diagnosis, and that sexual dysfunction may be particularly salient for low-income Hispanic women.

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