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Why are black women twice as likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer?

Black women in England are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer as white women, as was reported on BBC News today.

Professor Annie Young from the Warwick Medical School comments on the factors behind this.

"Late-stage disease is found in around 25% of black African and 22% of black Caribbean breast cancer patients. In white breast cancer patients, the figure is 13%.

"There may be multiple reasons for the increased incidence of advanced breast cancer in black women:

  • The genetic make-up of black women is different to white and they may have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer e.g. high incidence of a gene mutation called BRCA1 and BRCA2* in black women
  • Lower breast cancer screening uptake than white women
  • Less awareness of the risk factors and signs and symptoms of breast cancer – and fears about the potential risks of mammography

"This area of disparity in incidence needs more research – diet, for example.

"However, firstly, we need to understand the communities that are at risk, their background and their feelings around breast cancer."

16th November 2016

Further information, contact:

Luke Walton, International Press Officer

L dot Walton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk

02476 150 868

07824 540 863