In the UK, breast cancer incidence rates are lower in women from ethnically diverse backgrounds including South Asian, black, Chinese, and mixed groups when compared to white women.

However, women from these backgrounds experience differences in breast screening attendance, the stage and age of diagnosis, survival outcomes, and experiences of care and treatment. 

  1. Breast screening
  2. Age at diagnosis
  3. Stage at diagnosis
  4. Survival
  5. Awareness
  6. Patient experience

Breast screening

Evidence suggests women from ethnic groups are less likely to attend breast screening compared to white women in the UK.

Lower breast screening uptake may be due to cultural and language barriers and a lack of tailored interventions.

Age at diagnosis

There is a lack of recent data on the age of diagnosis by ethnicity, however, evidence suggests women from ethnically diverse backgrounds in the UK are diagnosed at a younger age than white women.

Stage at diagnosis

Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced breast cancers and breast cancers that have fewer treatment options, such as triple negative breast cancer.

Around 25% of black African women and 22% of black Caribbean women are diagnosed with stage 3 or stage 4 breast cancer at diagnosis in England. This compares to 13% of white women.

Survival

Late-stage diagnosis is associated with poorer survival outcomes in women from ethnically diverse backgrounds when breast cancer is more difficult to treat.

Black women in England aged 15-64 years had significantly lower survival from breast cancer at both one-year (96%) and three-years (85%) compared to white women (98% at one-year, 91% at three-years)

South Asian women aged 15-64 years had significantly reduced survival compared to white women at three-years (89%).

Awareness

Studies suggest women with breast cancer from ethnically diverse groups have lower breast cancer awareness and knowledge of symptoms and risk factors than white women.

Patient experience

Some evidence suggests that women with breast cancer from South Asian backgrounds report higher levels of depression, anxiety and poorer quality of life measures compared to white women.

South Asian and black women also report a higher level of concern about body image and stronger fatalistic beliefs.

The 2019 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey for England highlights that women with breast cancer from Asian, black and mixed ethnic backgrounds, rated their overall care lower than ratings from White women.

For more support and information, call Breast Cancer Now's free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.