More research is needed into fear of breast cancer recurrence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, participants at a Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) Think Tank heard last week.
At Think Tank 2023, 22 BCNA Consumer Representatives from across Australia gathered to share their ideas and experiences and hear the latest research to help drive BCNA’s continued advocacy to improve equity and access to treatment and support for Australians affected by breast cancer.
Dr Ben Smith, Senior Research Fellow and Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellow at UNSW Sydney, presented an Australian-first study of Fear of Cancer Recurrence (FCR) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer on behalf of the Targeted Approaches to Improve Cancer Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (TACTICS) team.
Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are slightly less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than other Australians, they are more likely to die from the disease.
Dr Smith said FCR often resulted in psychological distress, poor quality of life and high health care use, yet very little was known about fear of recurrence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with breast cancer and how to best address these concerns.
To address this gap, the research team partnered with BCNA to conduct surveys and interviews with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women with breast cancer.
The research was a collaboration between the University of Queensland, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, Menzies School of Health Research and BCNA.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women informed the project through BCNA’s First Peoples Advisory Group and the Indigenous-led Targeted Approaches to Improve Cancer Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (TACTICS) Centre of Research Excellence.
The study found levels of fear of recurrence appeared to be higher than in non-Indigenous populations.
Culturally responsive communication and care was seen as important, with a critical need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health staff that could provide support in a culturally safe way.
The next phase of this work will focus on how to develop or adapt resources to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with breast cancer to manage concerns about their cancer coming back. First Nations women affected by breast cancer interested in taking part can register here.