Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 195–206 | Cite as

Colorectal cancer screening among Latinos from U.S. cities along the Texas–Mexico border

  • Maria E. Fernandez
  • Rosario Wippold
  • Isabel Torres-Vigil
  • Theresa Byrd
  • Diamond Freeberg
  • Yadvindera Bains
  • Jessica Guajardo
  • Steven S. Coughlin
  • Sally W. Vernon
Original Paper


Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates are comparatively low for U.S. Hispanics. To learn more about the factors influencing CRC screening among Hispanics living along the U.S.–Mexico border, 12 focus groups were conducted with Hispanic men and women aged 50 years and older in three Texas counties; Cameron County (Brownsville), Webb County (Laredo), and El Paso County, (El Paso). The focus group guide contained questions about health care behavior, knowledge about CRC, experiences with cancer, and factors that influence CRC screening. A total of 92 individuals participated with the majority aged 50–69 (75%). Twenty percent were born in the United States and 51% had lived in the United States for more than 20 years. Participants had low levels of education, income, and insurance coverage. The analysis revealed several overarching and contextual themes relating to knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions about cancer and CRC screening. A prevalent theme that emerged from all groups was frustration and a lack of confidence in the U.S. healthcare system. Few participants had been advised by their providers to obtain CRC screening. Lack of patient knowledge about colorectal cancer and screening appeared to be a critical factor influencing screening. Themes about death and pain due to cancer were prevalent as were cultural factors such as machismo and embarrassment. System level barriers such as cost, medical insurance and transportation also impacted screening. These findings suggest that strategies are needed to educate Hispanic residents of border communities about CRC and to motivate them to undergo CRC screening.


Colorectal cancer Hispanics Health literacy Qualitative research Cancer screening 



This study was funded by cooperative agreements (CDC PRC SIP 2-02U48 CCU6009653, CDC PRC SIP 16-04U48 CCU6009653, CDC PRC SIP 18-04U48 DCCU6009653). Dr. Vernon was supported by NCI CA97263 and CDC PRC SIP 19-04U48 DP000057. Dr. Bains was supported by NCI Grant U56-CA0999038.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria E. Fernandez
    • 1
  • Rosario Wippold
    • 1
  • Isabel Torres-Vigil
    • 2
  • Theresa Byrd
    • 3
  • Diamond Freeberg
    • 4
  • Yadvindera Bains
    • 5
  • Jessica Guajardo
    • 6
  • Steven S. Coughlin
    • 7
  • Sally W. Vernon
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Health Promotion and Prevention ResearchUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public HealthHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Disparities Research – Center for Research on Minority HealthUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.School of Public Health El Paso Regional CampusEl PasoUSA
  4. 4.The University of Texas at Brownsville and Southmost Texas CollegeBrownsvilleUSA
  5. 5.Cancer Physicians Associates, PACollege StationUSA
  6. 6.Doctors Regional Cancer Treatment CenterLaredoUSA
  7. 7.Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch, Division of Cancer Prevention and ControlCenter for Disease Prevention and ControlAtlantaUSA

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