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Minorities 'need to be made aware'

WOMEN from ethnic minority communities are dramatically less likely to check for signs of breast cancer than white British women, new research has shown.

The study into breast awareness, commissioned by charity Breast Cancer Care, revealed that nearly half of women from black and minority ethnic communities had never checked their breasts for signs of cancer.

The research was undertaken as part of the charity's Same Difference campaign, in advance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).

More than 1,600 women across England, Scotland and Wales were surveyed, including 800 women of Pakastani, Bangladeshi, Indian, African, Afro-Caribbean, Chinese and Irish origin.

A third of the women from the ethnic minority groups said they had little knowledge of breast cancer issues and nearly half of those in the most at-risk age group (more than 50 years old) said they had never attended a breast screening appointment. More than half of the ethnic minority women surveyed did not know the risk of breast cancer increases with age.

Pushpa Martin, who is of Asian origin and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, said: "Those of us who are breast aware must educate the older generation, particularly those who don't read or speak English.

"My mum, for example, didn't even know what a mammogram was. We need help in explaining to our mothers and grandmothers what screening is and what they can expect."

With 41,000 women and 300 men developing breast cancer each year in the UK, it is the most common cancer in women of all ethnic groups.

Breast Cancer Care says it wants action from the Government, local health practices and community organisations to help raise awareness of the disease among ethnic minorities.

The charity's research manager Karen Scanlon said: "These figures are a wake-up call for us all. They clearly demonstrate that breast awareness messages are not getting through to women from black and ethnic minority groups.

"With breast cancer incidents increasing across all communities, this inequality in such a fundamental area of health knowledge cannot be ignored."


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