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Does breast cancer prevention vary by race?

A recent study explored the differences in risk-management behaviours between women of various races who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Managing several medical conditions is largely influenced by personal, social, genetic, environmental, and psychological determinants of health. These factors vary by race, leading to racial disparities that are correlated to the treatment and management of diseases. Breast cancer falls in this category of health conditions.

Successful treatment of breast cancer is partially attributed to its early detection and preventative measures for those at high risk. An American study published by the Ethnicity & Health journal reviews risk management habits of African-American and Caucasian women who are at high risk of breast cancer.

The researchers interviewed 20 African-American and 30 Caucasian women. Participants were selected if they were classified with a high risk of breast cancer without any previous cancer diagnoses. The interviews assessed the participant’s experience with risks, their decision-making thought process, and risk management behaviours. The resulting data was analyzed using grounded theory methodology, which is a form of analysis of qualitative data where similar ideas are assigned codes that are then grouped into concepts and categories to build a new theory.

African-American women experienced more obstacles in risk management

The study found that risk management depended on the following three factors: knowledge of the available risk management options, information regarding managing breast cancer risk in general, and personal opinions regarding breast cancer prevention.

The findings suggested that the group of African-American women experienced additional obstacles in each of the aforementioned factors in comparison to the group of Caucasian women. The barriers to information in the African American group of women indicates a necessity for increased relaying of information regarding preventative measures for women at high risk of breast cancer.

Study offers valuable information for breast cancer prevention strategies

As global health begins to transition from emphasis on acute care to preventative care, studies regarding the health disparities between different groups are important to recognize and address. This study offers valuable information regarding preventative measures and reducing future cases of breast cancer.

With increased expenditures on health education in communities facing knowledge barriers, nations will be able to lower cancer treatment expenses while improving the overall health of their population. Although this study focuses on breast cancer prevention, further research on factors affecting preventative care across other medical conditions will be highly beneficial for global health as well.

Written by Shrishti Ahuja, HBSc


  1. Crane, M. (2019, January 14). In breast-cancer prevention, race matters. Retrieved March 06, 2019, from
  2. Padamsee, T. J., Meadows, R., & Hils, M. (2018). Layers of information: Interacting constraints on breast cancer risk-management by high-risk African American women. Ethnicity & Health, 1-24. doi:10.1080/13557858.2018.1562053
Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti is currently working towards her HBSc degree in Medical Science and English Literature from Western University. She enjoys taking on challenging opportunities that allow her to communicate complex scientific concepts to a variety of audiences. Along with the Medical News Bulletin, she is actively involved in the orientation program at her university, is part of a dance team, and enjoys travelling.


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