The University of New Mexico’s Comadre a Comadre program, housed in the College of Education, plans to expand its Breast Health Pláticas project after receiving a one-year, $25,000 grant from the Prevent Cancer Foundation (PCF).

This is the second consecutive year that UNM’s Comadre a Comadre program has received this competitive grant from the PCF. The grant will enable the Comadre a Comadre program to further implement its Breast Health Pláticas program, a community-based project designed to educate and raise awareness about early detection of breast cancer among Hispanic/Latinas. As part of the grant, the Comadre a Comadre Program aims to educate, navigate and conduct follow-up for 300 Latina women ages 40 and older who attend breast health education classes. Since its implementation, the Breast Health Pláticas Project has engaged over 3,000 women in community educational classes.

“BHP is a key project under the Comadre a Comadre Program, which exemplifies its multi-level community-engaged approach to increasing the early detection of breast cancer,” said Elba Saavedra Ferrer, principal investigator and faculty member in the College of Education’s Health Education Program (HESS). “The classes are implemented by peer educators, who are breast cancer survivors, and trained to teach the classes. The Project is community-based and engages faith-based, institutions, businesses, community-based organizations, medical facilities to partner in the project implementation.”

The Breast Health Pláticas Project is coordinated by Yesenia Hernandez, a graduate of the HESS, Community Health Education Program. With community partners, the project seeks to enhance their knowledge of breast cancer and to navigate them to breast cancer screening appointments. The project will span across two additional counties including Valencia and Sandoval. These classes are held in churches, community centers, family rooms, places of businesses and other locations. More than 40 local, community partners are involved in UNM’s program.

The educational sessions are implemented using an evidence-based breast and cervical cancer curriculum and are conducted by trained Peer Educators who are also breast cancer survivors and are representative of the community. The sessions are offered in an informal conversational and culturally appropriate format, and also offer navigation service for medical appointments for the women who request assistance. The project aims to increase breast cancer knowledge by 80 percent among participants.

“Despite a lower incidence of breast cancer, Hispanic/Latina women are diagnosed at more advanced stages, experience delays in treatment, and have worse survival rates,” said Saavedra-Ferrer. “Individual and systems-level factors lead to breast cancer disparities among Hispanic/Latina women. Peer-patient navigation and community-based interventions can be effective and a culturally-relevant approach to addressing systemic barriers to BC screening and care.”

The Prevent Cancer Foundation supported 10 different projects across the nation through its community grants program. The projects were required to focus on increasing cancer prevention and early detection in communities across the United States. Many of the projects selected will directly impact underserved populations in both urban and rural areas where access to cancer prevention and early detection services are sparse.

The Comadre a Comadre program was created to empower the lives of Hispanic/Latina women and their loved ones through advocacy, education, information, resources, support and research about breast health and breast cancer.

For more information, visit Comadre a Comadre.