Pakistani, African and Indian women living in Scotland are at greater risk of late-diagnosis breast cancer compared to other ethnic groups, a study at the University of Edinburgh has found.
The study, funded by the Chief Scientist Office, found correlation between ethnic groups and breast screening clinic attendance.
Dr Narinder Bansal, research fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Population Health Sciences said, “More work needs to be carried out to understand and address why there are ethnic differences in the uptake of breast cancer screening.”
The study, covering 140,000 records from 2002 to 2008, calculated the frequency of positive responses from women aged 50 and over who were receiving a first-time invitation to a breast screening clinic.
The proportion of non-attendance was 41.9 per cent for Pakistani women, 37.4 per cent for African women and 32.7 per cent for Indian women, compared with 23.1 for white Scots.
For other South Asian females the proportion not attending was 35 per cent. It was 32 per cent for those of mixed background.
It is thought that differences may arise from a lack of awareness of breast cancer and a difference in attitudes to modesty and the NHS.
Alia Gilani, a health inequalities pharmacist from Glasgow who works closely with the South Asian community, told The Herald "Some patients might not be able to read the invites, or don't understand the relevance of it.
"For some people, in terms of access, it's difficult for them to go without a family member — they can't speak English, it's not nearby, they're not confident.
"I think it's a case of raising awareness of the importance of screening."
In addition researchers found that besides ethnicity, deprivation and education, having a long-term illness and living in a rural area were important factors increasing the likelihood of declining an invitation to attend screening.
“Our study highlights the need to ensure that cultural sensitivities are considered in the provision of health services”, said Dr Bansal.
Data from England has also shown that the traditionally low rates of breast cancer among South Asian women is catching up with that of white Scottish women.