Breast Cancer Coverage From Every Angle
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Biologic Differences in Invasive Breast Cancers Among Black and White Patients

By: Meg Barbor, MPH
Posted: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Compared with white patients, black patients had a worse breast cancer–free interval and a higher likelihood of aggressive subtypes of breast cancers, according to the results of a cohort study from The Cancer Genome Atlas, reported by Dezheng Huo, MD, of the Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Chicago, and colleagues, in JAMA Oncology.

A total of 930 patients with breast cancer were evaluated in the study, including 154 black patients of African ancestry and 776 white patients of European ancestry. According to the investigators, higher genetic contribution to estrogen receptor–negative breast cancer was seen in black patients than in white patients, and more than 40% of breast cancer subtype frequency differences could be explained by genetic variants. This finding seems to suggest the biologic differences between breast cancers in black and white patients may be linked to differences in the distribution of germline genetic variants.

African Americans have the highest breast cancer mortality rate. Data from this study may be used toward better risk assessment interventions and development of more effective targeted therapies for the specific subtypes of breast cancer that disproportionately affect black women.