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Posttreatment Breast Cancer Surveillance and Follow-up Care Experiences of Breast Cancer Survivors of African Descent: An Exploratory Qualitative Study

Thompson, Hayley S. PhD; Littles, Monique MA; Jacob, Sherly BS; Coker, Crystal BS


Breast cancer survivors are at considerable risk for breast cancer recurrence and at higher risk of developing a new breast cancer compared with women never diagnosed. It is recommended that survivors undergo careful breast cancer surveillance as cancers detected early are more treatable. However, data indicate that surveillance among African American survivors, particularly mammography, is lower than that of white survivors. There is little published work focusing on general experiences of posttreatment breast cancer surveillance among survivors of African descent. In the current qualitative pilot study, key informant interviews were conducted in order to explore the following: (1) the extent of posttreatment surveillance information provided to or obtained by survivors of African descent; (2) the actual follow-up care received by survivors in the past year; and (3) factors that are either motivators of or barriers to care. Participants were 10 African American and African Caribbean breast cancer survivors. Survivors reported a number of factors that motivated them in obtaining follow-up care: a desire to maintain good health, concern about recurrence, support from healthcare providers, familial relationships, relationships with other survivors, and religious/spiritual faith. Survivors also reported barriers to care: fear of recurrence, low support from family and friends, lack of information about posttreatment follow-up care, and medical care costs. These results represent formative work that may inform similar studies examining factors in breast cancer surveillance and follow-up care in larger samples of survivors of African descent.

From the Department of Oncological Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, NY (Dr Thompson, Mss Littles and Jacob); and the Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif (Ms Coker).

This research was supported, in part, by the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program DAMD17-03-1-0454.

Corresponding author: Hayley S. Thompson, PhD, Department of Oncological Sciences, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave Levy Place, Box 1130, New York, NY 10029 (e-mail:

Accepted for publication April 20, 2006.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.