breast cancer
A woman walks under a canopy of pink umbrellas on a street in downtown Sofia, Oct. 23, 2012. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Advanced breast cancer is more likely to be diagnosed in black women than white women — by almost two times — a new England-based analysis by Cancer Research U.K. and Public Health England showed.

While 25 percent of black African and 22 percent of black Caribbean breast cancer patients were found to be in the late-stage of the disease, the figure stood at 13 percent for white women.

Early diagnosis of cancer is important for better and more effective treatment and experts say black women lose out to their white counterparts because of low awareness of symptoms and screening, BBC reported.

A woman at Black Health Initiative (BHI), a Leeds-based support group, said the community tends to ignore the problem till the very end. BBC quoted her as saying, “ A lot of us black people bury our head in the sand. ‘Oh, me, well, I don't need to go, there’s nothing wrong with me.’”

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and BHI provides a platform for women of black African and Caribbean descent who have had breast cancer or have had a person close to them suffer from it to seek help.

“Women, especially women of color, are less likely to go for screening,” Heather Nelson, from BHI, told BBC. “You’ll get leaflets through your door and they will be predominantly of white, middle-class women. There's no representation of South Asian, African descent et cetera.”

“If you get information like that, you're going to look and think, ‘That's not about me,’” she explained.

While the common misconception is that lumps are the only sign of breast cancer, health officials say any changes to the breasts — like nipple discharge or discoloration — should prompt a checkup.

According to the National Breast Cancer Organization, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.

However, early diagnosis helps increase the effectiveness of the treatment.