Indian, Pakistani women in US diagnosed with breast cancer at younger age: Study

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Indian and Pakistani women living in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age as compared to non-Hispanic white women, a new study suggests. Published in the International Journal of Cancer, the study aims to provide an insight into risk factors that influence the disease.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Rutgers School of Public Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. For the purpose of this study, researchers examined the characteristics of breast cancer among Indian and Pakistani-American and non-Hispanic white women in the US.

Data, including incidence data among Indian and Pakistan women between 1990 and 2014, was reviewed for the study along with that compiled by the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. Researchers also examined treatment and survival data as well as disease characteristics for 4,900 Indian and Pakistani women and 4,82,250 non-Hispanic white women diagnosed with the disease.

In its published form, the study suggests that Indian and Pakistani women are not only diagnosed at a younger age but with more aggressive forms of breast cancer. Compared to non-Hispanic white women, they also received more subcutaneous or total mastectomies.

The number of Indian and Pakistani women diagnosed with breast cancer has increased over the years even as the occurrence of the disease among them was lower than in non-Hispanic white women.

Researchers stated that Indian and Pakistani women were less likely to die of breast cancer than a non-Hispanic white woman. However, the health of Indian and Pakistani women diagnosed with breast cancer was tracked for a shorter period of time than that of their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

Lead author of the study, Jaya M Satagopan told news agency PTI, "Our results provide an insight into breast cancer in Indian and Pakistani women, suggesting several hypotheses to guide future scientific studies to better understand the risk factors influencing disease etiology and prognosis." Satagopan is also the director of the Centre for South Asian Quantitative Health and Education at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

Earlier research on the subject has shown poor mammogram screening rates in Indian and Pakistani women. Sociocultural factors and lack of family support have been identified as some of the factors affecting this phenomenon. The study also points out that South Asians are the fastest-growing major ethnic group in the United States with breast cancer rates increasing within the population.

"Our study indicated that there are important differences in this population that justify further studies to better understand biological, sociocultural, and system-level factors such as interactions with the health system, affecting breast cancer screening patterns, diagnosis, risk and survival among South Asian women, given the paucity of literature on this topic," news agency PTI quoted the recent study's senior author Elisa V Bandera. A professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Bandera is also co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

(With inputs from PTI)

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