Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 748–754 | Cite as

Knowledge and Perspectives of Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Among Female African Immigrants in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area

  • Ezinne Grace Ndukwe
  • Karen Patricia WilliamsEmail author
  • Vanessa Sheppard


Black women in the USA have both a higher percentage of late-stage diagnoses as well as the highest rates of mortality from breast cancer when compared to women of other ethnic subgroups. Additionally, Black women have the second highest prevalence of cervical cancer. Many reports evaluating the cancer outcomes of Black women combine data on African-born immigrants and US-born Blacks. This categorization ignores subtle yet important cultural differences between the two groups, which may ultimately affect breast and cervical cancer screening practices. Therefore, this study investigated knowledge and awareness levels of breast and cervical cancer screening practices among female African-born immigrants to the USA residing in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Data were collected from 38 participants through key informant interviews, focus group sessions, and a sociodemographic questionnaire over a 3-month study period. Results suggest that fatalism, stigma, and privacy are among the major factors that affect the decision to seek preventative screening measures for breast and cervical cancer among this population. Additionally, the study implies that cervical cancer awareness is significantly lower among this population when compared to breast cancer. This study highlights differences between women of African descent residing in the USA and the need for continued research to increase understanding of the manner in which immigrant status affects health-seeking behavior. This information is critical for researchers, physicians, and public health educators aiming to design culturally appropriate interventions to effectively reduce the prevalence of breast and cervical cancer among female African immigrants living in the USA.


Cancer Immigrant health Mammography Breast and cervical cancer screening African immigrant health 



The authors would like to thank Mrs. Ify Nwabukwu and the members of the African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association (AWCAA) for their assistance in the completion of this study. Ezinne Ndukwe was supported by the Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) Program of the University of Nebraska (grant R25 CA112383).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ezinne Grace Ndukwe
    • 1
  • Karen Patricia Williams
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Vanessa Sheppard
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State University College of Human MedicineEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer CenterWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive BiologyMichigan State University College of Human MedicineEast LansingUSA

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