Dr. Amelie Ramirez: ‘Hispanic Women Shouldn’t be Dying at Higher Rates’


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic women in the U.S., a fact Komen Scholar Dr. Amelie Ramirez has dedicated her career to changing. Screening tests can help find breast cancer at an early stage when the chances of survival are highest, but Amelie knows many Hispanic women are hesitant to be screened.

As the leader of the Salud America! Hispanic health program and the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, Amelie focuses her work on addressing health equity in the breast cancer care continuum, particularly within the Hispanic population.

“Hispanic women are at risk for breast cancer. Their survivorship is not as good as other populations, and part of the reason for that is they’re not coming in for routine screening or not getting appropriate access to care, which causes some of the disparities within our population,” Amelie said.

“My work focuses on everything from encouraging people to come in for screening, to participating in clinical trials, and, more recently, in a large survivorship study as well. We also look at the quality-of-life issues impacting our patients.”

Amelie has seen firsthand the critical need to gather more data from Hispanic people with breast cancer to provide a more diverse pool for researchers to use in the search for cures.

“We recognize that breast cancer is many different diseases, as it impacts different women in different ways. We want to know what we can do to not only treat, but cure people impacted by breast cancer. The only way we’re going to do that is by really bringing together all our knowledge, and a diversity of samples and data that’s available,” Amelie said.

“What we see right now in academic health centers is that sometimes you just get what’s available in your community, but not across the U.S. As we know, our communities are becoming more and more diverse, and so we want treatments and success stories that are going to impact everyone. That is why data collection is so important for us.”

As a Komen Scholar, Amelie has helped shape ShareForCures, Komen’s newest groundbreaking research initiative. ShareForCures invites people to safely share data about their breast cancer diagnosis through Komen’s secure online platform, providing researchers with a more diverse pool of data and discovering new cures, faster.

“We want to change the fact that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic women. The only way we can change that is by all of us collaborating and working together and trusting each other,” Amelie said.

“Komen has been here for us for many years, and they really want to make a difference. We need people to participate in ShareForCures. We need their willingness to share their data, and we need their trust that we’re going to follow all the security protocols that are necessary to protect any and all information that is shared through the program.”

Large samples of data from diverse populations have not previously been readily available to researchers in the search for breast cancer cures, Amelie explains. She hopes ShareForCures can change that. She also noted that Komen aims to translate ShareForCures into Spanish to ensure all populations can participate in the program.

“We need samples from a large group of people to ensure accurate results. We want to be able to make this data accessible to our researchers so that they can come up with better treatments for us and improve the quality of life of all our patients. This is why it’s so critical that we work together and share our information through ShareForCures – so that we can find those cures.”

When you join ShareForCures, you can help accelerate the search for breast cancer breakthroughs. With thousands of others, you can help make our vision of a world without breast cancer a reality. Learn more about ShareForCures today.

Komen has resources available in Spanish and other languages on our Translated Resources page.

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