SINGAPORE: A new joint research done by hospitals on breast cancer from Singapore and Malaysia has revealed that Malay women tend to be diagnosed at later stages of the disease.
Doctors say they may not be undergoing sufficient screening.
Some 5200 patients from Singapore’s National University Hospital and the University Malaya Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur were involved in a study linking ethnicity and breast cancer survival rates between 1990 and 2007.
Records of some 3,700 Chinese, 970 Malays, and 530 Indians diagnosed with invasive breast cancer were studied.
It showed that Malay women tend to be diagnosed with larger tumours and at later stages.
They also had more malignant and aggressive tumours compared to Chinese and Indians with similar tumour sizes.
54 per cent of the Malay patients also saw their tumours spreading to the lymph nodes, compared with 43 per cent of Chinese and 48 per cent of Indians.
"We really recommend that Malay women who are above 40 years old should follow the population screening guidelines and undergo surveillance mammography," said Dr Lee Soo Chin, senior consultant at National University Cancer Institute Singapore.
"Because for women who undergo regular mammogram screening, we are able to diagnose the breast cancer at earlier stages, which is stage zero and one which is more easily curable."
Malay women were also less likely to complete treatment.
"We also recommend that Malay women should follow the recommendations of cancer doctors and complete the cancer treatment," said Dr Lee.
"Because if just by undergoing a proper surgery and radiotherapy, we could potentially save Malay women from dying from breast cancer."
In Singapore, about 1,500 breast cancer cases are diagnosed each year.
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