Risk of aggressive breast cancer subtype 3 times higher for black women

March 24, 2009

Lifestyle, age and weight have all been considered as risk factors for breast cancer. Now a study published in the open access journal Breast Cancer Research has found that even taking these factors into consideration, black women face three times the risk of developing an aggressive 'triple negative tumour' compared to women of other racial backgrounds.

In the US, which has the highest rate of breast cancer in the world, the overall incidence of breast cancer is lower in black women than in white women. Yet when black women do get breast cancer, it tends to be more advanced when diagnosed, has a higher risk or recurring and a less favourable outcome.

A research team led by Dr Carol Rosenberg at Boston University School of Medicine searched hospital records from the Boston Medical Center, focusing on 415 breast cancer cases. The team looked at clinical features particularly patient age, weight and race/ethnicity, and pathological features including the triple-negative pattern - tumours that lack expression of the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 gene

According to Rosenberg, "The odds of having a triple negative tumour were three times higher for black women than for non-black women in the study. Previously, it was known that pre-menopausal black women had more triple negative tumors. What we found that was new was that these tumours were just as common in black women diagnosed before or after age 50, and in those who were or were not obese."

Rosenberg adds, "The higher prevalence of triple negative breast tumours in black women in all age and weight categories likely contributes to black women's unfavourable breast cancer prognosis."
-end-
Notes to Editors:

1. Triple negative breast cancers are increased in black women regardless of age or body mass index
Lesley Stead, Timothy L Lash, Jerome Sobieraj, Dorcas Chi, Jennifer Westrup, Marjory Charlot, Rita Blanchard, John-cho Lee, Thomas King and Carol L Rosenberg
Breast Cancer Research (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://breast-cancer-research.com/imedia/1803449597229150_article.pdf?random=506013

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://breast-cancer-research.com/

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2. Breast Cancer Research (http://breast-cancer-research.com/home/) is an international, peer-reviewed online journal, publishing original research, reviews, commentaries and reports. Research articles of exceptional interest are published in all areas of biology and medicine relevant to breast cancer, including normal mammary gland biology, with special emphasis on the genetic, biochemical, and cellular basis of breast cancer. In addition, the journal publishes clinical studies with a biological basis, including Phase I and Phase II trials. Breast Cancer Research has an Impact Factor of 4.37.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

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