- The National Institutes of Health is undertaking a collaborative research project to build the largest study to date that focuses on the genetic and biological factors involved in the heightened breast cancer risk among black women.
- The project will be built on previous research from the African-American Breast Cancer Consortium, the African-American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium, the NCI Cohort Consortium, and resources from 18 studies, to bring together data on 20,000 black women with breast cancer.
- The study aims to identify the factors behind racial disparities in breast cancer risk and ensure that all Americans benefit from advances in precision medicine, said Douglas R. Lowy, MD, acting director of the National Cancer Institute.
The move works in step with other recent efforts around the cancer moonshot and precision medicine, including the creation of the Oncology Precision Network, the launch of the Genomic Data Commons and the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program.
According to CDC data, breast cancer in the U.S. is the most common cancer among women regardless of race or ethnicity and the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. Statistics indicate that in 2013 there were 230,815 women and 2,109 men diagnosed with breast cancer, while 40,860 women and 464 men died from it. Breast cancer incidence rates among black women spiked 0.4% from 2008 to 2012, the American Cancer Society reported.
The new NIH study will include a comparison of the genomes of 20,000 black women with breast cancer to those of 20,000 black women without breast cancer, and to white women with breast cancer. Genetic, environmental, and societal factors will all be considered in examining why black women are currently more likely to die from breast cancer and to be diagnosed with aggressive subtypes of breast cancer.
“I’m hopeful about where this new research can take us, not only in addressing the unique breast cancer profiles of African-American women, but also in learning more about the origin of cancer disparities,” Lowy said.