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Friday 14th December 2018

Black women 'neglected' in cancer care

12th November 2010

Biochemist Abi Ajose-Adeogun and founder Marina Raime from the Better Days Cancer Care charity for African Caribbean women argue that black women are not getting the treatment they deserve.


The image of breast cancer remains the white middle class women.

But the lack of any other ethnic image in posters has led to the perception that other groups – particularly black women – are not at significant risk of developing the condition.

This emphasis on white women – among the 40,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK every year – may have cost lives.

The effects of breast cancer on different ethnic groups has not been a main strand of research and only recently have studies focussed on the fact that there are significant differences in the biology and epidemiology of breast cancer in black women.

This position has meant the outcome for black women has been worse than their white counterparts, particularly because US research has shown that on average black women develop breast cancer 10-20 years younger than white women.

The white-dominated research has also been a factor in setting the criteria for breast cancer screening at the age of 50, a level too high for black women.

The misconception by black women that they are not at risk of developing breast cancer also leads to delayed diagnosis.

Cancer Research UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer are now studying the more aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer found in black women, but to avoid more unnecessary deaths, the age of screening for black women needs to be lowered.

There also needs to be more research, education to raise awareness and programmes to eliminate the barriers black women face when accessing breast health services.


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