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Cancer-related symptoms, Symptom assessment, Hispanic Puerto Ricans

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The knowledge base of cancer-related symptoms is increasing; yet, limited attention has been given to provide evidence on differences in the perception of cancer symptoms between ethnic groups, especially in the Hispanic Puerto Rican (PR) population. To examine whether there are significant differences in the severity, distress, interference, and frequency of cancer symptoms between island Hispanic PR and mainland non-Hispanic whites. In this secondary data analysis, data from 109 Hispanic PR was matched by age, gender and cancer diagnosis with data from non-Hispanic whites. Cancer symptoms were assessed using the Cancer Symptom Scale (CSS). Mann–Whitney statistical test was used to evaluate pairwise differences between Hispanic PR and non-Hispanic whites on symptoms from the CSS. There were significant differences on some symptoms including PR reporting: (a) more intense itching, swelling, taste change, difficulty sleeping, bloating, depression, sadness, worry, and nervousness; (b) significantly greater distress about taste change, appetite, anxiety, depression, worry, and feeling nervous; (c) rash, anxiety, depression, sadness, and nervousness interfered the most with their daily lives; and, (d) that the frequency of occurrence of the symptoms of pain, itching, dizziness, taste change, anxiety, sadness, and nervousness was higher compared to non-Hispanic whites. PR cancer patients are at increased risk for experiencing greater severity of cancer symptoms compared to non-Hispanic whites. But because the Hispanic oncology population does not always report symptoms, risking under-assessment and under-management, this suggests there may be a greater need for symptoms surveillance for this population.

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Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, v. 20, p. 1029-1039

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. The final authenticated version is available online at: