, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 449-480

Impact of Breast Cancer on Asian American and Anglo American Women

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This pilot study constitutes the first exploration ofthe impact of breast cancer on Asian American women.Three hypotheses guided this study: (1) Asian Americanwomen would choose breast conserving therapy andbreast reconstruction at a lower rate than the AngloAmerican women due to cultural differences in bodyimage, (2) Asian American women with breast cancerwould express psychological distress somatically andAnglo American women would express distress emotionally, and acculturation levels of the AsianAmerican women would modify the expressions ofdistress such that women with high acculturation willexpress distress more emotionally and lessacculturated women would express distress moresomatically, and (3) Asian American women would seekassistance for psychosocial problems at asignificantly lower rate than Anglo women. Ethnicity,age, and levels of acculturation were found to besignificant variables that had to be consideredsimultaneously. The three hypotheses were onlypartially supported: (1) Asian American women chosebreast conserving therapy and adjuvant therapy at asignificantly lower rate than the Anglo Americanwomen, (2) Contrary to the hypothesis, somatization didnot appear to be a dominant form of symptompresentation for Asian American women regardless oflevel of acculturation, and (3) Asian American womensought professional assistance for psychosocialproblems at a significantly lower rate than Anglowomen. Asian American women reported using differentmodes of help-seeking behavior for emotional concernsand receiving different sources of social support thanthe Anglo American women. Cultural interpretations ofthe findings are offered to explain the differences inthe physical, emotional, and social responses to thebreast cancer experience of Asian American womencompared with the Anglo Americans, and notably betweenthe Chinese- and Japanese Americans as well. Thefindings of this study warrant more refinedexploration in order to improve the medical,psychological and social outcomes for Asian Americanwomen with breast cancer.