A  A  A   Print
Many Black Women Prone to Gene-Driven Breast Cancer: Study

Many Black Women Prone to Gene-Driven Breast Cancer: Study

MONDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- In an attempt to better understand the genetics of breast cancer, new research suggests that about 20 percent of black women with the disease have an abnormality on at least one of 18 genes previously linked to breast cancer vulnerability.

And those women with either aggressive "triple negative" breast cancer, early onset disease or a family history of breast and ovarian cancer are most likely to have such genetic abnormalities, the study authors said.

The finding might one day lead to improved risk screening for the disease, the researchers said.

"For many years, we've seen breast cancer take a heavy toll on African-American women, and this study begins to resolve unanswered questions about what's driving these disparities," study lead author Dr. Jane Churpek said in a news release from the University of Chicago, where she is an assistant professor of medicine.

"While larger studies are needed to confirm our results and compare them to other populations, we hope our findings will lead to increased awareness about potentially life-saving genetic screening for African-American women with a personal or family history of early onset or aggressive forms of breast cancer and their relatives," she said.

Churpek and her colleagues are scheduled to present their findings Monday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, in Chicago. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The study findings stem from an analysis of DNA gathered from nearly 250 black breast cancer patients that searched for abnormalities among 18 so-called breast cancer susceptibility genes.

The result: 22 percent of the women had at least one gene abnormality, with most carrying just a single mutation.

The researchers said the women in the study were selected from those referred to the University of Chicago for genetic counseling, so they had a greater risk of a genetic mutation than the general population of black women. Still, the researchers said, they were surprised at the rate of mutations because only 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancer cases are thought to have a genetic cause.

Dr. Andrew Seidman, an ASCO spokesman, said in the news release that the study findings indicate the need for increased genetic screening, especially since black women are known to face a relatively high risk for aggressive triple negative breast cancer and often have poorer survival rates.

"These results argue for increased screening for mutations in African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, [women diagnosed] with triple negative breast cancer or women with a family history [of breast cancer]," he said. "Since such testing may lead to life-saving interventions for their family members, these data underscore the need to overcome barriers to genetic testing for breast cancer risk among African-American women."

The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Komen for the Cure.

More information

For more on black women and breast cancer, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: University of Chicago, news release, June 3, 2013

Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.