Late stage breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs of the body. Black African women are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with
late stage breast cancer than white women in England, suggested new
analysis from Cancer Research UK and Public Health England.
25% of Black African women and 22% of
Black Caribbean women diagnosed with breast cancer are picked up at
stage three and four. This compares to 13% of white British women.
‘25% of Black African women and 22% of Black Caribbean women diagnosed with breast cancer are picked up at stage three and four. This compares to 13% of white British women.’
This is the first time data on more specific ethnic groups and
their stage at diagnosis from across England has been routinely
released, helping to build a clearer picture of who is diagnosed at an
early or late stage.
Ethnicity and stage at diagnosis was collected for women diagnosed with breast cancer in England in 2012 and 2013.
Dr. Jodie Moffat, Cancer Research UK's head of early diagnosis,
said, "Information about the stage when cancers are diagnosed in the UK
has greatly improved in recent years, and it's vital the data continues
to be collected and analyzed. While there are still gaps, this
information provides a useful insight into which ethnic groups are more
likely to be diagnosed with late stage cancer. It's difficult to know
exactly what would be behind any differences, but there are likely to be
a range of reasons, including possible differences in tumor biology,
awareness of symptoms, barriers to seeking help, attitudes to cancer and
breast screening attendance."
Dr. Jem Rashbass, PHE Cancer Lead, said, "This analysis will help
improve awareness and target treatments. It also shows how vital it is
that we collect data is on every person with cancer England, as findings
like these are only possible due to the world leading cancer data we
have in this country."
"It is hugely important to catch all cancers, but particularly
breast cancer, early. Lumps are not the only sign and women should tell
their GP if they notice any changes to their breasts such as nipple
discharge or changes to the skin of the breast. Breast screening is
offered to women aged 50-70 and can help detect cancer earlier and
Dr. Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information,
said, "Reducing late stage diagnosis of cancer is a key part of our work
to achieve better results for patients, and we want to be sure that any
activity is reaching those most in need. Because of the data gaps,
we'll need further work to know how accurate the picture is that these
results paint. But we are clear that finding cancer at an earlier stage
can make a real difference as it means treatment is more likely to be
successful. If you notice something that isn't normal for you, or you've
a symptom that's not gone away or has got worse, getting it checked out
promptly could save your life."