Decolonising medical knowledge – The case of breast cancer and ethnicity in the UK

Elsevier, Journal of Cancer Policy, Volume 36, 2023, 100365
Sarah Catherine Workman, Maddy C. Thompson, Lisa Lau

National and global efforts have led to significant improvements in breast health and diagnosis, globally (Lukong, 2017). These achievements, however, are not even. Focusing on the case of breast cancer in the UK, we argue that enduring forms of medical racism leave Black women more vulnerable to advanced forms of the disease, explaining higher mortality rates and later-stage diagnosis. In particular, we show how a lack of dedicated policy, inadequate data collection, and a lack of representation conspire to place Black women at additional and unnecessary risk of worse breast cancer outcomes. We thus propose key recommendations to address the ethnic disparities in and make steps to decolonise breast cancer care. These are early screening for at-risk groups, community-led interventions, and more and better representation of Black women and their risks in breast cancer resources.