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Breast cancer screening - how do we communicate with women of South Asian origin?


The aim of this study was to investigate how various Breast Screening Units (BSUs) communicate with women of South Asian origin (SAOW).


Structured questionnaires and letters setting the study objectives were sent to the Directors/Office Managers of 99 BSUs in the UK. Further reminders were sent via the RCR Breast Group and directly to BSUs with larger SAOW populations.


To date, 60 responses have been received, with 59 completed questionnaires. The BSU size varies considerably, with 3 BSUs inviting less than 10,000 women and 6 inviting over 50,000 annually. The percentage of invited SAOW also varies, from <5% to 25 to 30%. Only one BSU sends the first invitation/reminder in South Asian languages.

Sixteen BSUs (27%) record the patient's language and 20 (34%) give leaflets in their language when they attend for mammography. Four BSUs give them normal recall letters in their language. Three BSUs send their assessment recall letter and nine give them biopsy leaflets in their language. Three BSUs send them a normal assessment results letter in their language.

Seventy-six percent of the BSU think it would be useful to record a patient's language for improving services.

No BSU has separate funding for targeting SAOW for breast screening; only one has a dedicated team to do so.

Only 17 (29%) of BSUs have Link Officers/Promotion Officers.

Almost half the BSUs feel they are not communicating well with SAOW.


We need to improve communication with SAOW. This will help them make informed consent/choices, provide them with a better patient experience and eventually improve their screening uptake rates.

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Jain, A., Serevitch, J. Breast cancer screening - how do we communicate with women of South Asian origin?. Breast Cancer Res 11 (Suppl 2), P30 (2009).

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  • Breast Cancer Screening
  • Breast Screening
  • Screening Uptake
  • Breast Group
  • Asian Language