In recent years, the UK media and many charities have strived to raise more awareness about cancer through various platforms which has started many conversations about cancer in the society. However some communities still shy aware from this topic according to a recent BBC report.
“Bamidele Adenipekun, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, said illnesses like cancer are not talked about in some ethnic minority communities “due to fear”. This statement by Bamidele sadly is the case in many BAME communists (BBC. 2019)
According to an NHS article, “cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs”.
There are more than 20 types of cancer however, in the UK the main ones affecting many people are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. According to the report “more than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime”.
McMillan a leading UK support service for cancer victims and their families reported that cancer awareness and seeking help behaviour in regards to cancer is low across all BME communities. The uptake of cancer screening is also low among BME communities and are less likely to engage with treatment and clinical trials due to stigmas, fear and mistrust in the medical system.
Although people from BAME communities (Asian and Mixed) are less likely to get cancer, Black men risk of getting cancer is comparable to white. Due to the lack of conversation about cancer in many BAME communities, tailored support to meet our needs is lacking. To tailored support, we as a community need to break down the stigma’s associated to cancer. Conversations about cancer needs to be had in local BAME communities and in our family homes. BAME people should consider taking up offers in cancer screening and victims of cancer should consider giving feedback about their treatment.
Simon Stevens (NHS England Chief Executive) reported that BAME patients are “less likely to give feedback about treatment, with only 50% of those from ethnic groups taking part in the most recent cancer survey, making it difficult for the NHS to identify areas where care can be improved” (NHS. 2017).
In order to reduce the stigmas associated to cancer and to get access to the appropriate support to meet our needs, we need to engage with health services and talk more about cancer in our communities. Cancer is not the “white man’s disease”. Cancer is not selective with race or ethnicity.
For support and enquires about cancer please search cancer support UK or McMillian Cancer Support
References and Further Reading