Background. Although African American women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, they suffer a 30% higher age-adjusted mortality. Lower health literacy levels diminish women's ability to engage in cancer prevention and detection activities. Methods. We conducted a focus group with lay health workers, following their completion of structured literacy assessments. Results. The women's performance established the feasibility and acceptability of incorporating literacy assessments. However, the findings identified perceived limits in existing measures and identified attributes that should be included in cancer-focused literacy assessments. Conclusions. A cancer-specific literacy assessment could assist community health workers in measuring women's functional cancer literacy.