Presentation, tumour and treatment features in immigrant women from Arabic-speaking countries treated for breast cancer in Australia

This article was first published by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in November 2019.


Background: Australia has a large population of immigrant women from Arabic-speaking countries. The aim of this study was to examine breast cancer tumour and surgical treatment features for women born in Arabic-speaking countries and compare them to women born in Australia and other countries. Another aim was to consider how this information can inform clinical care for this multicultural population.

Methods: This is a retrospective audit of an institutional breast cancer database. Demographic, tumour and surgical treatment data were extracted for the Arab women and compared to Australian-born women (comparison 1) and to women born in all other countries (comparison 2); chi-squared analysis was performed to test for
differences between groups.

Results: A total of 2086 cases with country of birth information were identified, of whom 139 women (6.7%) were born in Arabic-speaking countries, 894 (42.8%) were born in Australia and 1053 (50.4%) were born in other countries (71 nations). Arab women tended to be younger (P = 0.013), more disadvantaged (P < 0.001), were more likely to have symptomatic rather than screen-detected breast cancer (P < 0.001), had a higher rate of high grade (P = 0.021), HER2-positive (P = 0.025) breast cancer compared to Australian-born women or others. There was no difference in tumour (pT) stage, rate of breast conservation versus mastectomy, re-excision and contralateral prophylactic mastectomy between groups. Australian-born women were more likely to undergo breast reconstruction after mastectomy (P < 0.001); reconstruction rate was >29% in all groups.

Conclusion: Women born in Arabic-speaking countries were younger, more disadvantaged and showed more aggressive tumour features. This has implications for supportive care during treatment and survivorship.


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