News Releases

Puget Sound-area Hispanic/Latino cancer survivors needed for Fred Hutch Research Study

Goal is to develop support-group curriculum for Spanish-speaking cancer survivors
Rachel Ceballos, Ph.D.
SANA Study principal investigator Rachel Ceballos, Ph.D., is an assistant member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch. Fred Hutch file

SEATTLE – June 1, 2015 – Puget Sound-area Hispanic/Latino cancer survivors are needed to participate in support groups as part of a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study called SANA: Survivors Helping Each Other Navigate Forward, or "Sobrevivientes Apoyándose a Navegar Adelante."

The goal of the SANA Study, funded by Fred Hutch New Investigator Career Development Funds, is to learn more about the needs of Hispanics/Latinos who have survived cancer. The researchers hope to learn specifically whether going to a support group helps survivors better deal with their cancer experience and long-term side effects.

Informational and social support groups have emerged as effective ways to help reduce the emotional and physical burdens of cancer survivorship. However, the availability and uptake of such programs among Hispanic/Latino survivors is greatly limited, especially for Spanish-preferring individuals.

“This is particularly relevant for the growing Latino population, as the psychosocial well-being of Hispanic/Latino survivors tends to be significantly lower than that of non-Hispanic whites. As the number of cancer survivors increases, so will the need to address the psychosocial well-being of Hispanics and Latinos,” said study principal investigator Rachel Ceballos, Ph.D.

The SANA Study will offer culturally appropriate, Spanish-language support groups to Seattle-area cancer survivors. This is an extension of a previous study conducted in the Lower Yakima Valley region of Washington. Preliminary data show this support group program improved quality of life and decreased levels of psychosocial distress. However, due to small sample sizes, it was not possible to determine whether the intervention had the same impact on men versus women. It was also unclear whether the program would be as effective in a more urban Latino population. “We are excited to bring this study to the Puget Sound Region,” said Ceballos, an assistant member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch.

Ceballos, who is also an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, is the primary investigator of various studies working to build programs that support cancer survivors in the Hispanic/Latino and African-American communities.

Deep community connections

Ceballos’s research emphasizes the development of culturally appropriate interventions and the inclusion of community collaboration in research. To this end, during the initial SANA Study research in the Lower Yakima Valley the community identified cancer survivorship as a particular concern. The SANA Study also employs community health workers, or “promotores de salud,” who facilitate the support group program. “Promotores provide a level of familiarity often unattainable by researchers and establish opportunities to build trust between researchers and the community, as well as provide critical job skills that will remain with the community,” Ceballos said. In this study, promotores will conduct the support group program to accommodate such cultural factors and improve the likelihood of sustainability and dissemination to other Hispanic/Latino-serving organizations. 

Who can participate in the SANA Study?

The SANA Study seeks the participation of 80 Spanish-speaking Hispanic/Latino individuals over age 18 who have been diagnosed with cancer in the last 10 years and have finished their cancer treatment. (Those currently on hormonal therapy as a continuing part of their cancer treatment may still be eligible.) Participants must live and have received cancer treatment in King or Pierce County. Participants will randomly be assigned to take part in one of two groups. One group will participate in the support group and the other will serve as a control, or comparison, group and receive no group intervention. Participants in both groups will be asked to complete questionnaires. 

All participants will be compensated for their time with up to $60 in gift cards. There are 10 sessions in the support group curriculum and each session will last about two hours. The groups will be held in a location convenient for the participants.

Editor’s note: For more information about the SANA Study, please contact Fred Hutch project coordinator Esther Jhingan at 206.667.7935 or To speak to someone in Spanish, please call Nohora Cuervo or Jose Mayorga at 206.465.2274. A Spanish version of this news release is available upon request.

Note for media only: To arrange an interview with principal investigator Rachel Ceballos or one of the study’s community consultants, please contact Kristen Woodward at 206.667.5095 or


At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Molly McElroy
206.667.6651 (desk)