Bahamas Has Highest Rate of Breast Cancer

Thursday 20th, September 2012 / 09:40 Published by

Dr. Judith Hurley

A study to determine if Caymanian women have a genetic predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer begins in the Cayman Islands this week.

Researcher Dr. Judith Hurley of the University of Miami is in Grand Cayman this week to begin work on the study, which will detect if and how many Caymanian women have mutated genes that may make them more likely to develop cancer of the
breasts or ovaries.

A similar study carried out in the Bahamas by Ms Hurley found that 23 per cent of women with breast cancer there had the mutated genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 – the highest reported rate in the world. In the United States, between 3 and 5 per cent of American women with breast cancer have the mutated genes.

The study in the Bahamas showed that in 2007, 43 per cent of women in the Bahamas who died of breast cancer were younger than 50; 14.3 per cent of them died between the ages of 31 and 40; and 1.1 per cent died in their 20s.

Dr. Hurley said she became interested in the possibility of a predisposition for breast and ovarian cancers among Caribbean women when she realised about 10 years ago that a lot of women from the Bahamas who came to her practice in Miami for treatment seemed to be developing cancer and dying from the disease at a younger age than many of her other patients.

“The average age was 42; in the US, it’s 62. And 50 per cent of the women dying of breast cancer in the Bahamas was 44. It was awful,” said Dr. Hurley, associate professor of medicine and oncologist with the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Centre at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

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