Breast cancer awareness and barriers to symptomatic presentation among women from different ethnic groups in East London

Br J Cancer. 2011 Nov 8;105(10):1474-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.406. Epub 2011 Oct 11.


Background: During 2001 to 2005, 1-year breast cancer survival was low in ethnically diverse East London. We hypothesised that this was due to low breast cancer awareness and barriers to symptomatic presentation, leading to late stage at diagnosis in women from ethnic minorities. We examined ethnic differences in breast cancer awareness and barriers to symptomatic presentation in East London.

Methods: We carried out a population-based survey of 1515 women aged 30+ using the Cancer Research UK Breast Cancer Awareness Measure. We analysed the data using logistic regression adjusting for age group and level of deprivation.

Results: South Asian and black women had lower breast cancer awareness than white women. South Asian women, but not black women, reported more emotional barriers to seeking medical help than white women. White women were more likely than non-white women to report worry about wasting the doctor's time as a barrier to symptomatic presentation.

Conclusion: Interventions to promote early presentation of breast cancer for South Asian and black women should promote knowledge of symptoms and skills to detect changes, and tackle emotional barriers to symptomatic presentation and for white women tackle the idea that going to the doctor to discuss a breast symptom will waste the doctor's time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • United Kingdom