Breaking the silence: breast cancer knowledge and beliefs among Somali Muslim women in Seattle, Washington.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Health care for women international, Volume 36, Issue 5, p.608-16 (2015)


Adult, Aged, Breast Neoplasms, Cultural Characteristics, Emigration and Immigration, Fear, Female, Focus Groups, Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Health Services Accessibility, Humans, Islam, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Somalia, Washington


We elicited the perspectives of Somali women in Seattle, Washington, about breast cancer. We conducted a focus group of 14 Somali immigrant women at a community center in Seattle, Washington. Participants reported barriers to seeking cancer screening, including fear of pain, difficulty with transport, and lack of knowledge. Participants explained that Somali women tended not to discuss breast cancer or breast cancer screening, and said religion played a central role in their care and treatment decisions and coping mechanisms. If such barriers are addressed, fewer women may present with late-stage breast cancer, resulting in greater chances for long-term breast cancer survival.