Native American breast cancer survivors' physical conditions and quality of life.
BACKGROUND: Based on Survivors' Guidance, an interactive, Web-based, culturally relevant Native American cancer survivorship program, Native American Cancer Education for Survivors (NACES), was developed. The focus of the program is to improve quality of life (QOL) for Native American breast cancer survivors. METHODS: NACES is a community-driven research and education project, based on the Social Cognitive Theoretical Model. Participants complete a QOL survey that includes physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and social components. This publication focuses on the physical component of the survey collected by trained Native American patient advocates, and compares physical conditions among Native American breast cancer survivors who were diagnosed within 1 year, those diagnosed between 1 and 4 years, and those who are long-term survivors (diagnosed > or = 5 years ago). RESULTS: For the first time, survivorship issues are reported specifically for Native American breast cancer patients (n = 266). Selected access issues document situations that contribute to disparities. Comorbidities such as high blood pressure and arthritis are common in the survivors, with more than a third having diabetes, in addition to breast cancer. Numerous side effects from cancer treatments are experienced by these survivors. CONCLUSIONS: These data describe what Native American breast cancer patients are experiencing based on self-reported information. Clearly there is need for much more work and long-term tracking of Native American patients to begin to document if or how the severity of physical symptoms lessens over time and if their experiences are significantly different from non-Native Americans.