Culturally diverse communities

Culturally diverse communities

In Australia, HBV (a leading cause of liver cancer) disproportionately affects culturally diverse communities, with 61 per cent of Australians diagnosed with HBV having been born overseas (MacLachlan et al. 2018). The prevalence of chronic HBV among culturally diverse communities in Australia reflects the prevalence observed within their country of birth. In 2016, 41 per cent of people living in Australia diagnosed with chronic HBV were born overseas in the Asia-Pacific region (MacLachlan et al. 2018). People born in HBV-endemic regions are also more likely to develop liver cancer, with Australians born in Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Korea being up to 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer than other Australians (ASHM 2018).

Focusing on relevant culturally diverse communities is important for identifying and treating people with an existing infection who are at a significant risk of developing liver cancer if it is not managed. More testing would most likely uncover people from migrant communities who require treatment. An estimated 38 per cent of Australians living with HBV are undiagnosed (MacLachlan et al. 2018).

For people from culturally diverse backgrounds in Australia, a cancer diagnosis can come with additional complexities, particularly when English proficiency is poor. In many languages there is not a direct translation of the word ‘cancer’, which can make communicating vital information difficult. Perceptions of cancer and related issues can differ greatly in people from culturally diverse backgrounds and this can affect their understanding and decision making after a cancer diagnosis. In addition to different cultural beliefs, when English language is limited there is potential for miscommunication of important information and advice, which can lead to increased stress and anxiety for patients.

A professionally trained interpreter (not a family member or friend) should be made available when communicating with people with limited English proficiency. Navigation of the Australian healthcare system can pose problems for those with a non-Anglo culture, and members of the treatment teams should pay particular attention to supporting these patients.

The Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre has developed a glossary of more than 700 cancer terms in nine different languages. The multilingual glossary has been designed as a resource for professional translators, interpreters and bilingual health professionals working in the cancer field. The glossary is a unique tool that enables language professionals with access to accurate, consistent and culturally appropriate terminology.

Visit the Peter Mac website to see the glossary.