Breast cancer ‘more often advanced’ in black women

Black women in England are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer as white women, according to a new analysis by Cancer Research UK and Public Health England. 

 Late-stage disease is found in about 25% of black African and 22% of black Caribbean breast cancer patients.  In white breast cancer patients, the figure is 13%. Experts say there are many reasons for this. Vital ones to change are low awareness of symptoms and screening. According to Cancer Research UK, black women are less likely than white women to go for a mammogram when invited by the NHS.  Spotting cancer early is important because the sooner it can be treated, the better the outcome.  A support group in Leeds helps women of black African and Caribbean descent who have either had breast cancer themselves or have loved ones who have.  One woman there told the BBC: “A lot of us black people bury our head in the sand. ‘Oh, me, well, I don’t need to go, there’s nothing wrong with me.'” Another said: “I find a lot of people, they’ll find out something is wrong but they keep it to themselves and they’re praying. They’re praying that God will heal them.” Heather Nelson, who works for BME Cancer Voice, said: “Women, especially women of colour, are less likely to go for screening.  “You’ll get leaflets through your door and they will be predominantly of white, middle-class women. There’s no representation of South Asian, African descent et cetera.  Dr Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research UK, said: “If you notice something that isn’t normal for you, or you’ve a symptom that’s not gone away or has got worse, getting it checked out promptly could save your life.” Lumps are not the only sign of possible breast cancer.  Women should also get checked if they notice any changes to their breasts such as nipple discharge or changes to the skin.

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