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Southampton experts reveal race divide in breast cancer survival rates
YOUNG black women with breast cancer are less likely to survive the disease than white women of the same age, Southampton experts have revealed.
Academics from the University of Southampton discovered that black women aged 40 or younger in the UK have a higher risk of breast cancer coming back than white women – despite having the same access to care.
The reasons are still unknown but it is believed that it could be down to biological and genetic factors, a language barrier, or a lack of awareness of the disease in the group, all delaying the beginning of effective treatment.
Experts are now calling for more work to take place to find the cause.
The research published in the British Journal of Cancer also found that young black women are more likely to have larger more aggressive tumours and higher rates of triple negative breast cancer – a type of breast cancer that does not respond to hormone therapies.
Academics from the city university said that these factors did not completely explain why black women have poorer survival rates, and put forward a number of possible explanations.
These included the failure to spot the symptoms early and cultural factors such as recent immigration to the UK which could affect use of health services.
Cancer Research UK senior lecturer in medical oncology at Southampton University and study author Dr Ellen Copson said: “Our study confirms for the first time that black women under 41 in the UK are more likely to have breast cancer recurrence than their white counterparts, despite equal access to healthcare.
“The finding also backs up similar findings in the USA, suggesting that this could be an international trend, but further research is needed to try and pin down the exact cause or causes, so we can tackle this issue.”
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, added: “It’s worrying that ethnic background may be a factor influencing a woman’s chance of surviving breast cancer.”
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