Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the European region. ONE in ELEVEN women will develop breast cancer before the age of 74.
All European countries are classified as developed economies. Still, when the EU-27 countries were compared to others, it was shown (similar to the USA and the UK) that in the more affluent countries, usually the ones with a long-established Western lifestyle, a higher incidence of breast cancer was present.
Moreover, these ‘developed’ countries exhibit higher survival rates and, these higher rates are associated with the availability of essential health treatments. One can safely assume that differences between the higher-and lower-income countries include,


  1. Lifestyle
  2. Age at the first pregnancy
  3. Obesity
  4. Probably the level of exposure to external estrogens
  5. The development stage of disease at diagnosis and
  6. General access to high-quality healthcare,
NOTE: While these western factors are said to affect breast cancer incidence and/or survival, biological ‘mutated’ differences were not suggested as a means for explaining lower survival rates in the poorer regions of Europe – the eastern bloc like they are in black communities.
Survival rates for all EU countries show a significant increase, but most former Eastern Bloc European countries still record lower survival rates compared to other countries within the EU.


European research studies predict that the overall survival improvement across all EU27 countries will probably magnify as more Eastern Bloc countries reach a higher economic status and beneficial treatments become available to all European citizens.
This is useful for understanding the global Black Breast Cancer pattern. Possibly, this points to an over-focus on racial differences in the case of the international/European black person with breast cancer – over-relying upon biology to explain much lower incidence, with very much high mortality rates.
Without completely ignoring the genetic component, and following these European findings, focusing on the overall environmental conditions of black communities, should play a leading role, i.e., poverty, lower social, economic status, poor access to good healthcare and all that that entails as mentioned in points 1 – 6 above.


That’s to say, a good part of the differences in breast cancer incidence and survival rates between European countries is their (socio)economic status rather than their geographic (race and ethnicity) distribution on the European continent.


For a range of known and unknown reasons, Belgium is said to be the highest risk setting country for breast cancer in Europe. Concerning their immigration population, we can see a repeated global pattern with a lower incidence of breast cancer yet with lower survival levels.
Notably, the risk levels of second-generation migrants (their daughters) are said to lie between those of first-generation migrants and the patterns of their host country. This, at least partly, is due to second-generational changes with their daughters having fewer children starting their families later.


  1. Either stay away from a western lifestyle to keep the number of breast cancer incidence reasonably low and, at the same time, possibly reduce your risk of survival. OR,

  1. Integrate a western lifestyle and thereby increase your chances of breast cancer while increasing your ability to survive – especially if you’re in western Europe?


A Belgium report states that the chances of surviving breast cancer are generally high when detected at an EARLIER STAGE OF DISEASE – so much so that over 90 per cent of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis. That’s why the implementation of EARLY DETECTION programmes is spread across industrialised European countries.
I’m not saying breast cancer is not affected by tumor biology. Still, the overwhelming differences seem to centre upon the availability of educational, economic, and social resources that can be deployed to tackle this disease.
In Europe, detrimental outcomes have apparently, only been identified for
  • Black African women in Southeast England,
  • Surinamese women in the Netherlands and
  • Non-European origin groups were found to be at low risk of breast cancer in Sweden, i.e., Africans (as well as Indians, East Asians, Latin Americans).
Some studies attribute the lower breast cancer mortality level in most migrant background groups in Belgium to a lower underlying risk of premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer.
This is particularly significant for Moroccans and (SSA) African women). This lower breast cancer risk was, in turn, associated with


    • Lower educational levels and
    • Differences in the reproductive behaviour of groups of non-European origin compared to the Belgian, Italian, French and Dutch women.
    • Proportionately, there are more women as mothers with non-EU backgrounds, and the number of children born per woman is generally higher.
    • The observed breast cancer risk pattern corresponds to results for migrant groups in the Netherlands, England and Sweden.
The remaining breast cancer risk advantage we observed while keeping social-economic position and reproductive behaviour constant is likely to result from risk factors that are unaccounted for in our incidence analyses, such as


    • Differing breastfeeding customs,
    • Age at menarche,
    • Screening attendance,
    • Physical activity,
    • Tobacco use,
    • Obesity,
    • Hormone-replacement therapy,
    • Hormonal contraceptive use and
    • Genetic exposures.
There were a significant disadvantages among premenopausal Moroccan (I’m unsure whether they are Arab, African or both in the studies read) women with breast cancer. This appeared to be due to later stage tumor development at diagnosis. This was compared to the native (European) population.


  • Differential tumour biology may underlie later stages at diagnosis and lower survival among premenopausal Moroccan women.
  • In contrast to the premenopausal Moroccans, both premenopausal and postmenopausal Italian patients have a lower excess risk of mortality vs Belgian patients. Why there is this advantage to Italians is unknown.
The Spanish Society of Senology and Breast Pathology (SESPM) has released a report stating that Spain’s incidence is among the lowest, behind countries such as Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
Despite this encouraging situation, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Association warns that approximately 30 per cent of women with breast cancer could develop metastasis during their lifetime and between 5 and 6 per cent of new cases present metastasis at diagnosis.
All I will say here is that we must be conscious of the white women’s European pattern that follows us as black women. If you are a person of African or Caribbean heritage living in Spain, do not be complacent just because Spain is doing relatively well in Europe with its European citizens. The warning suggests we need



It’s been difficult to find deeper information on the condition of African and Caribbean populations living in Europe impacted by breast cancer.
Please get in touch with me at to share any information informally or otherwise. We need to learn more about what is happening to each other across the Black Breast Cancer Globe.
The Caribbean
Cancer du sein : prothèses pour peaux noires
The Promise (UK Documentary)


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