Dr. Anna Napoles, PhD, MPH, Professor, UCSF

Dr. Nápoles is a behavioral epidemiologist in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. She is Principal Investigator of the Center for Aging in Diverse Communities and is affiliated with Redes en Acción: The National Latino Cancer Research Network. 

Her research focuses on psycho-oncology, patient-clinician communication, cancer health disparities, and community-based models of research in ethnically and socioeconomically diverse groups. Working with Carmen Ortiz of Circulo de Vida and Ysabel Duron of Latinas Contra Cancer and several other community-based providers in the San Francisco Bay Area, she recently completed a community-based randomized controlled trial testing a peer-delivered cognitive-behavioral stress management intervention for Latinas with breast cancer called Nuevo Amanecer.  The intervention was effective in improving quality of life and reducing symptoms compared to women who did not receive the program. Her current research involves developing and testing community-based interventions to improve symptom management and quality-of-life among ethnically diverse breast and colorectal cancer patients.


Imagine being diagnosed with breast cancer. Imagine not knowing the details of your diagnosis or what to expect because you don’t speak English. Imagine the debilitating fear you feel when the doctor says the words, “You have cancer.”

For many Spanish-speaking Latina women, this is their reality. We have been working with community organizations, patients, and providers in the Bay Area to change that. Together, we developed an 8-week program called Nuevo Amanecer in which a Compañera or companion who has been through the breast cancer experience provides information and support to newly diagnosed Spanish-speaking women with breast cancer.

The Compañera delivers a program that teaches women some simple cognitive and behavioral skills that they can use to manage stress in their lives. They learn how to communicate about cancer with their families and doctors and how to ask for help when they need it. The result is that women regain a sense of control over their lives that was threatened by cancer. This short program has improved their emotional well-being, symptoms, and distress levels. The best part is that they can take these skills throughout life to reduce the chronic stress they face every day. Next, we will take this program to underserved rural communities of California where the need is even greater. Our goal is to make this program available to everyone.