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Breast cancer ‘more aggressive’ in black women

WARNING: Breast cancer survivor Adeline Pinnock, 44, hopes to inspire other women to know their bodies

A BREAST cancer survivor is urging black women not to delay visiting their doctor at the first sign of detecting a change in their bodies.

Adeline Pinnock’s comments follow a recent study which found that black women diagnosed with breast cancer have a much lower survival rate compared to white and Asian women.

The study, published by the British Journal of Cancer on October 22, found that black women under the age of 40 experience larger, more aggressive tumours with a higher risk of recurrence.

Pinnock, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39 after she noticed her breasts did not look the same.

Now in recovery, she runs the New Life Health Initiative where she hosts breast cancer events for black women and is pleading with other women not to delay getting checked.

She said: “Do not ignore your body trying to tell you something. It could be nothing but it could be something.

"Go to your GP or if you are scared to go there, go someplace where you can talk about it. Just do not delay in seeing someone.

"The longer you put it off, the more you are hurting nobody but yourself.”

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: “It’s worrying that ethnic background may be a factor influencing a woman’s chance of surviving breast cancer.

"We know that some ethnic populations carry higher genetic risks of getting certain types of breast cancer, but if this difference is down to symptom awareness or access to healthcare, that is particularly concerning."

She added: “More research is needed to look into the reason why young black women have higher rates of recurrence, but in the meantime women of any ethnic background should be aware of what is normal for their breasts and get any new lumps or anything unusual checked out by their GP.

"More often than not breast changes won’t mean cancer, but it’s best to get any unusual changes checked out.”

The research team based at the University of Southampton looked at data from 2,915 women who were younger than 40 when they were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although further research is needed to understand why the difference occurs and what can be done to improve black women’s chances of survival, the study’s authors put forward a number of possible explanations for why black women may be more affected than other groups.

Theories included biological and cultural differences.

Late diagnosis could also play a role if black women are unaware of the symptoms or less likely to be breast aware, enabling them to find any worrying changes, the study said.

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