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Ethnic study could aid breast cancer care

AAP logoAAP 14/10/2016 Scott Bailey

An Australian breast cancer researcher is calling for more ethnic-based studies into the disease to aid screening and treatment.

Dr Eunji Hwang's study, which analysed the diagnosis of more than 1200 breast cancer patients from southwest Sydney across a six-year period, identified a higher prevalence of the disease of those with an Asian-Pacific background in their 40s compared to other ethnicities.

It also showed a higher level of radiation treatment among the group, and a higher survival rate.

"It does leave the lingering question - is there a biological difference?" Dr Hwang said.

Results from the study also showed those from an Asian-Pacific background were much less likely to have invasive lobular carcinoma - a form of the disease which is much harder to detect - than other ethnicities.

Her study comes after researchers in the US found similar trends with African American people in terms of younger diagnosis in comparison to Anglo-Saxons in the country.

Dr Hwang, who spoke at the 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists on the Gold Coast on Friday, believes further research is required, which could allow for a more targeted approach to treatment.

"We need to be a little bit more sensitive about everyone's individual make up, culturally, biologically, all those things so that everyone is getting the best treatment for them and not being exposed to unnecessary things," she said.

Dr Hwang is also concerned that resources are going to waste if a "blanket approach" to treatment is maintained, regardless of ethnicity.

"Certain things may be inapplicable for certain people," she said.

"We're really trying to tailor our treatments now to the individual rather than everyone gets something."

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