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Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers in the UK and affects women of all ethnic groups. The psychosocial impact of breast cancer has been well documented. However, the research conducted in this area has been primarily focused on mainstream Caucasian women. There is very little work within the breast cancer literature that captures the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women.
To explore the experiences of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in African, Caribbean and South Asian women in the UK.
Twenty-three English-speaking breast cancer survivors (11 South Asian and 12 Black women) were recruited for this study. The women were obtained via snowball sampling and through various cancer-related support groups (chain referral sampling). A semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant. The interviews were then transcribed verbatim and inductive thematic analysis was conducted.
Thematic analysis of the data revealed six key themes: dealing with the illness as a family, healthcare experiences, body image concerns, social support, spirituality and life post cancer. Support and spiritual beliefs were identified as highly important coping mechanisms.
While BME women share similar concerns to Caucasian women, their experiences are also influenced by cultural-specific concerns. This study has important implications for healthcare professionals and recognises the need to provide culturally sensitive care and support to BME women, which is tailored specifically to their cultural values and beliefs.