Influence of cultural practices on breast cancer risks, stage at presentation and outcome in a multi‑ethnic developing country (Review)
- Norlia Abdullah
- Norazlina Mohamed
Affiliations: Department of Surgery, University Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Department of Pharmacology, University Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Published online on: September 23, 2021 https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2021.13067
Copyright: © Abdullah
et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
terms of Creative
Commons Attribution License.
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Malaysia is a developing country made up of three main ethnicities: Malay, Chinese and Indian. There are significant ethnic differences with regard to the type of daily food and cooking methods, contraception, breast‑feeding preferences, confinement period and care, postmenopausal intake and influence of the traditional healer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Malaysian women across all three ethnicities. However, the National Cancer Registry and local medical centres have documented ethnic differences in breast cancer risk (Chinese, 40.7 per 100,000; Indian, 38.1 per 100,000; Malay, 31.5 per 100,000), peak age (youngest in the Malays), stage at presentation (largest percentage at advanced stage among the Malays) and survival (poorest survival rate among the Malays). The Malays have several practices that are protective against breast cancer compared with the Chinese. However, the Malays have strong beliefs in the traditional healer, which contribute to the delay in getting treatment, causing a poor outcome and a low survival rate. The highest BRCA1 and 2 genetic mutation incidence is amongst the Chinese, but the Malays have the largest triple‑negative breast cancer rates. These factors may also contribute to the statistical breast cancer data.