Ethnic differences in breast cancer survival have been observed in the USA but have not been examined in Britain. We aimed to investigate such differences between South Asian (i.e. those with family roots in the Indian subcontinent) and non-South Asian (essentially British-native) women in England. Primary breast cancer cases incident in 1986 -1993 and resident in South East England were ascertained through the Thames Cancer and Registry and followed up to the end of 1997. Cases of South Asian ethnicity were identified on the basis of their names by using a previously validated computer algorithm. A total of 1037 South Asian and 50 201 non-South Asian breast cancer cases were included in the analysis; 30% of the South Asian (n=312) and 44% (n=22 201) of the non-South Asian cases died during follow-up. South Asian cases had a higher relative survival than non-South Asians throughout the follow-up period. The 10-year relative survival rates were 72.6% (95% confidence interval: 69.0, 75.9%) and 65.2% (64.5, 65.8%) for South Asians and non-South Asians, respectively. The excess mortality rates experienced by South Asians were 82% (72, 94%) of those experienced by non-South Asians (P=0.004). The magnitude of this effect was slightly reduced with adjustment for differences in age at diagnosis, but was strengthened with further adjustment for differences in stage at presentation and socioeconomic deprivation (excess mortality rates in South Asians relative to non-South Asians=72% (63, 82%), P<0.001). These findings indicate that the higher survival from breast cancer in the first 10 years after diagnosis among South Asian was not due to differences in age at diagnosis, socioeconomic deprivation or disease stage at presentation.
- breast cancer
- South Asians