Presentation and diagnosis of breast cancer in black women
Posted on 03/10/2011
Professor Emma Ream
Researchers from across King’s College London, will undertake important research into the barriers to early presentation and diagnosis with breast cancer in black African, black Caribbean and white women in the UK.
The three year study commences in October 2011 and is funded by the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) Research Call, which is a multi-funder partnership administered by Cancer Research UK.
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy affecting women in the UK; 45,000 women are diagnosed with the disease annually. While the majority of cases are presented and diagnosed in good time, around 20-30 per cent of women with symptoms of breast cancer wait three months before consulting their GP. Research has shown that although the incidence of breast cancer is lower in women of black African and black Caribbean ancestry, when they are diagnosed it is often at a more advanced stage and they have worse survival rates than white British women.
Currently, little evidence exists to indicate why black women in the UK present late with breast cancer; research has yet to explore in detail attitudes to breast cancer diagnosis in black populations.
Emma Ream, Professor of Supportive Cancer Care at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, King’s College London, will lead the study which will explore the similarities and differences in barriers to early presentation and diagnosis with breast cancer in black African, black Caribbean and white women living in the UK. She will work with academics from across King’s, including the Institute of Psychiatry and the Thames Cancer Registry, based within the School of Medicine.
The first part of the study will entail in depth face to face interviews with 60 black African, black Caribbean and white women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Women will be recruited from seven NHS Trusts in London - two from the South East London Cancer Network (Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) three from the North East London Cancer Network (Bart’s and the London NHS Trust, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Newham University Hospital NHS Trust) and two from the South West London Cancer Network (St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and Croydon Health Services NHS Trust)). Interviewees will be invited to tell their story of whether and how they noticed changes in their breast, how they reacted to this awareness, which factors encouraged or discouraged them from consulting a health professional, to whom they presented, where they sought information about breast cancer, and how they came to be referred for treatment.
The second part of the study will incorporate focus groups with black African and black Caribbean women with breast cancer in Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. These will enable the saliency of findings from within London to be explored across locations outside the capital.
The study will provide a detailed understanding of the course of events leading to breast cancer diagnosis in black African and black Caribbean women in the UK, generating a model depicting factors that render these groups at high risk of late presentation and diagnosis. This theoretical understanding will provide the evidence needed to design interventions to promote breast cancer awareness and early presentation with the disease.
Emma Ream, Professor of Supportive Cancer Care from the School and principal investigator for the study, comments: “This is an incredibly important study to undertake in London given the diverse population living in the capital. Whilst research has been undertaken in the US exploring reasons for late presentation with breast cancer amongst ethnic groups, findings may not generalise well to the UK given their very different healthcare system and the different social and cultural experiences of minority populations within the US. This study will provide a very detailed picture of UK women’s experiences of diagnosis and highlight what needs to change in future to promote early presentation and diagnosis with the disease.”
For more information contact:
Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, King’s College London
T: 020 7848 3062
For more information about the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI), please visit the website: www.naedi.org.uk