6 Ways the Cancer Support Community Serves Non-English-Speaking Patients

April 23, 2021
The Cancer Support Community offers educational resources about myeloproliferative neoplasms in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese


There is no question that our country is linguistically diverse. At least 350 languages are spoken in homes across the United States, and more than 1 in 5 U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. Among this group, more than 8% reported speaking English less than very well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey. Yet, despite our country’s linguistic diversity, it can still be challenging for people whose first language is not English to find healthcare resources and services in their native language.

Language barriers make it difficult to access and understand essential health care resources and services. Throughout April, in recognition of National Minority Health Month, the Cancer Support Community has been spotlighting health equity in cancer care. CSC is committed to supporting efforts that advance health equity for all. In the spirit of this commitment, we’d like to highlight some of the diverse support services and educational materials we provide. While all our resources are available in English, many are also available in Spanish and several other languages.

Here, we share 6 ways CSC is working to conquer language barriers in cancer care.


1. The Helpline

Anyone impacted by cancer can reach out to CSC’s Cancer Support Helpline — no matter where you live, and no matter what language you speak. The Helpline provides free navigation for cancer patients or their loved ones in both English and Spanish. We also provide help in over 200 languages through a professional translation service. When needed, a live translator can join the Helpline call to provide proficient, nonbiased translation.

Whether you are a cancer patient or survivor, caregiver or loved one to someone with cancer, the Helpline is here to help you navigate your questions, concerns, and needs. Reach out today through our live web chat service or give us a call at 888-793-9355.


2. Educational Resources

Our Education team creates free educational resources for cancer patients and caregivers, from fact sheets to booklets to videos. Many of these resources are also available in Spanish and address a range of cancer care topics, including coping strategies, financial concerns, immunotherapy treatment, clinical trials, and more.

Explora nuestros recursos en español

CSC also provides educational materials about myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. These resources cover topics ranging from treatment options to communicating with your healthcare team.


3. CSC Affiliates

CSC’s services are available at 175 locations worldwide, including more than 50 affiliates. In the wake of the pandemic, our local affiliates have continued to provide innovative and compassionate care through telephonic and digital channels. Program offerings include support groups, yoga classes, referrals to resources, and educational workshops — all free of charge to anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis.

A number of our affiliates offer programming for Spanish-speaking participants, including the following locations. Explore their individual websites for more details:

A Hispanic couple smiles while stretching on a yoga mat in a yoga studio

Read CSC’s Statement in Support of Inclusion & Equality


4. Cancer Transitions

Cancer Transitions is a free, 6-week education program designed to help cancer survivors transition from active treatment to post-treatment and the next chapter in their lives. Offered by CSC and the LIVESTRONG Foundation, the program addresses the physical, psychosocial, and practical issues that cancer survivors and their loved ones may face after cancer treatment is over.

The Cancer Transitions program features a Spanish adaptation — ¿Ahora Que? La vida después del tratamiento de cancer — that encourages caregivers to participate. CSC collaborated with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on the program adaptation.

Get more details about the Cancer Transitions program.  


5. Cancer Insurance Checklist

CSC partnered with 19 cancer and advocacy organizations to develop the Cancer Insurance Checklist, which is also available in a Spanish-language version, Guía de Cobertura Médica para Personas con Cáncer. This easy-to-use guide is designed for anyone who has cancer, has had cancer, or is at risk for cancer. If any of these conditions describes you, the Cancer Insurance Checklist can help you shop for insurance on your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace. You can compare insurance plans, compare costs, and choose the plan that works best for you.


"In the United States, more than 43 million people speak Spanish as a first language (about 13 percent of the population), and that number continues to grow."  —Babbel.com


6. Research

Our Research & Training Institute (RTI) conducts psychosocial, behavioral, and survivorship research that is frequently put into real-world practice, including cancer care programming and education. CancerSupportSource® (CSS) is one ground-breaking tool that was created by the RTI to ensure patients and caregivers receive individualized support and education. CSS is a distress screening, referral, and follow-up questionnaire for people with cancer. The tool — a brief series of questions — helps identify key sources of cancer-related distress and unmet needs for patients. Upon completion, each patient or caregiver is then connected to information and support to address their unique needs. CSS is used at our affiliates, at hospitals and healthcare partner locations, and through our Helpline.

An updated Spanish-language translation of CSS was recently developed and is now being tested. This enhanced tool will include the ability to screen for risk for clinical depression and anxiety among Hispanic and Latino/a patients and survivors. New Spanish-language educational and support materials are also being tested and created. These important enhancements to the Spanish-language version of the CancerSupportSource tool are just one example of our research institute's efforts to ensure that CSC is serving all people impacted by cancer.


As an organization, we believe in equity for all, including in healthcare. We fight every day to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect and have the opportunity to live healthy and safe lives. Find out more about our commitment to health equity from CSC’s Eucharia Borden.