Moffitt Cancer Center Serves the Hispanic Population through its Yo me cuido Program and Language Services Department

October 21, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. Moffitt Cancer Center has developed comprehensive health education and support programs to address health disparities in underserved populations, including the Hispanic community.  The Yo me cuido® program promotes breast cancer screening and risk reduction in Hispanic women, and the Language Services department addresses spoken and written language barriers for patients who are limited English proficient, deaf or hard-of-hearing, or have other communication needs.

Seventeen percent of the United States population is estimated to be Hispanic and nearly 20 percent speak a language other than English at home.  Hispanics often face cultural and language barriers which lead to significant health disparities in access to care, quality of care, and patient outcomes. 

The Yo me cuido program, which translated means “I take care of myself”, was developed in 2011 to “deliver community-based outreach and health education to Hispanic women to increase cancer-related awareness and knowledge, increase mammography use, and reduce cancer risk through healthy lifestyles,” said Venessa Rivera-Colón, manager for the Moffitt Program for Outreach, Wellness, Education, and Resources (M-POWER).  Unlike many programs already in existence throughout the country, Yo me cuido emphasizes a more personal, culturally-based experience in both urban and rural environments that makes women feel more comfortable, valued, and empowered.

Even though Hispanic women have a lower incidence of breast cancer than non-Hispanic women, they have a much worse prognosis because of late diagnosis and delayed treatments. An essential component of Yo me cuido is educating of the importance of healthy living and breast cancer screening through health education workshops in Spanish, bilingual education materials, and a Spanish TV media campaign. Since the program began, it has successfully reached 2,226 women and 165 men through 93 workshops that promote the importance of healthy lifestyles.  The participants leave the workshops feeling that they learned something new and are more confident about making healthier choices.  Yo me cuido also offers patient appointment reminders though phone, email, text or postcard, and helps link women to no-cost mammograms.

Limited English proficient patients and their families also benefit from Moffitt’s Language Services department.  Language Services offers interpretation and translation services, including interpretation by way of onsite (live) interpreters, video and telephone interpreting, and written translation of important documents and information - all at no additional cost to the patient. Moffitt’s policy ensures that the hospital staff is aware of each patient’s preferred language for communication, and interpreters and translators are available to communicate medical information to each patient when needed.

“Moffitt is working to break down the language and communication barriers that may contribute to cancer disparities,” said Prado Antolino, manager for the Language Services department. “Moffitt’s responsiveness to the needs of these populations can serve as an example to other healthcare institutions, particularly cancer centers, in building critical structures and strategies that are responsive to the language and communication needs of patients and their families.”

Both of these Moffitt programs have received national recognition and have been highlighted in health care education journals. The Journal of Cancer Educationpublished a program paper about Yo me cuido in August. An article about Language Services at Moffitt appeared in the journal Diversity and Equality in Health and Carein February.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in the Southeast and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” for cancer since 1999. With more than 4,500 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on Florida of nearly $1.6 billion. For more information, visit, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.