Word on Health

Word on Breast Cancer in Black Women Study

Our grateful thanks to Breast Cancer Now and Professor Robert Horne. To hear the radio report again you can do so via the audio player at the bottom of this page.  To reach Breast Cancer Now’s website for help and support click here.     

As you heard in our radio report, researchers are investigating how to improve the quality of care for black women with breast cancer and reduce health inequalities, thanks to funding from Breast Cancer Now.

The research led by Professor Robert Horne and Dr Zoe Moon at University College London, will seek to understand the challenges faced by black women during treatment and care, particularly their experience of hormone therapy.

Background. Black women are less likely to get breast cancer than white women. But if they do, they are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancers and breast cancers that are more difficult to treat, like triple negative breast cancer*. They can also be less likely to survive the disease than white women**, even if they are diagnosed early.

Previous research also suggests that some black women may be less likely to continue taking vital treatments such as hormone therapy***, which is usually prescribed for between five to 10 years. This type of therapy reduces the chances of oestrogen receptor positive (ER-positive) breast cancer coming back and becoming incurable. But it comes with challenging side effects.

Overall, some black women have reported being less satisfied with the care they received compared to white women. 

Researchers believe satisfaction levels can impact how successful treatment is. As our report highlights Professor Horne and his team want to explore this further and find out what else may be contributing to health inequalities and to understand the barriers and challenges that may be contributing to poorer survival rates and low adherence to treatments among some black women. 

Approach. The researchers will initially carry out interviews with around 30 black women about their breast cancer care and their experience of hormone therapy.

They will then ask 150 white women and 150 black women to complete a survey asking questions about their experiences and beliefs about hormone therapy, and their feelings about the care they’ve received.

Dr Simon Vincent, Breast Cancer Now’s director of research, support and influencing told us: “Breast Cancer Now is delighted to fund this research that could help improve the quality of care for black women with breast cancer. We know that people from ethnically diverse backgrounds experience differences in care and treatment compared to white women, and that they may be less likely to survive the disease.

He added, “We’re committed to tackling these inequalities by raising awareness of breast cancer within ethnic communities and through funding research projects to find better ways to support them. We hope this research will help us ensure that everyone receives the best care and treatment, regardless of their ethnicity.”

Breast Cancer Now is available for anyone affected by breast cancer, providing support for today and hope for the future. Find out more by clicking here.

Listen to this weeks radio report

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