Let’s talk about cancer

This Black History Month, we will shine a light on the inequalities that people from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities can face when it comes to cancer.

There is an alarming disparity in the incidence of some cancers in BAME communities and other communities. For example, Black men are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime than other men.

Patients from BAME communities also report more negative experiences of cancer care than other groups. In Black Women Rising’s 100 Women Survey, which looked at potential inequalities for women of colour diagnosed with breast cancer, 74% of the women who use a softie (a prosthetic breast or nipple) were not offered one to match their skin tone.

The survey also found that 46% of women were told “I don’t think it’s cancer” by healthcare professionals.

Many BAME communities in the UK see cancer as a taboo subject and prefer not to speak about it. In a recent review of literature on Breast Screening, Wessex Voices found evidence to support this: ‘Most African people don’t like to talk about…cancer. They see it as a taboo, in fact, I know a lot of people who do not even say the word cancer’. These views can lead to patients from those communities delaying going to their GP if they have concerns – which means that if it is cancer, it can be more difficult to treat.

The campaign aims to unravel some of the stigma, understand the reasons for these barriers and provide people with the awareness, tools and access to support to make informed decisions about their health.

Find out more about different types of cancer

Prostate cancer

1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Breast cancer

Late stage diagnosis for breast cancer is more common in Black African and Black Caribbean adults than white adults

Lung cancer

79% of lung cancer cases in the UK are preventable

Bowel cancer

630 cases of bowel cases in men each year are linked to deprivation

Cervical cancer

30 to 34 is the most common age group for females with cervical cancer

Cancer screening


Cancer screening looks for early signs of cancer. Cancer screening is for people with no symptoms at all. If you have symptoms, don’t wait for a screening invitation – tell your doctor as soon as possible. Treatment is more likely to be successful if the cancer is found early.

There are three national cancer screening programmes in the UK: breast, bowel and cervical. Watch the videos below and follow the links to find out more about how cancer screening works.

  • Was this helpful ?
Skip to content