An Exploration of Black British Women’s Lay Beliefs About Breast Cancer and Their Help Seeking Behaviour


This study explored the beliefs that black women hold about breast cancer and if those beliefs affect  whether they chose to visit their doctor or not.

We found that most participants had a negative, fatalistic view of breast cancer. Some did view breast cancer positively, believing that it is a disease that can be overcome successfully. When it came to awareness of symptoms, participants were fully aware that a breast lump is a symptom of breast cancer but were unaware of the other symptoms.

Overall, when it comes to seeking help, the study suggests that black women are quite proactive and there would be no delay in visiting their GP (doctor) if they noticed a breast lump; delays in visiting a GP could occur if women experience other symptoms as people are less aware of these symptoms.

We found that the following factors could delay help seeking: other priorities such as family or work commitments; language barriers; lack of access to information; age (older people are more likely to delay visiting their GP); difficulty getting appointments; cultural insensitivities of the healthcare system, inaction by GPs; and a lengthy referral process.

You can read the report here: Black_Women_Breast_Cancer_Help_Seeking_2011

African Caribbean Cancer Awareness and Outreach Community Based Assessment

Pauls Report

This assessment was conducted for Paul’s Cancer Support Centre. It explored how the centre could deliver a cancer awareness and outreach programme aimed at the African Caribbean community in Wandsworth.

After interviewing members of the African Caribbean Community it was found that there was a negative, fatalistic view of cancer which has led to the stigmatisation of the disease within this community.

We found that there is a high level of awareness that a breast lump is a symptom of breast cancer but there is a low level of awareness of the other symptoms of breast cancer, the symptoms of common cancers  such as prostate, lung and bowel cancer as well as rare cancers.

Based on our findings we put forward a set of recommendations on how to address the negative perceptions of cancer and how best to raise awareness.

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