Tag Archive | Breast Cancer

Black Women are Being Left Out of Advancements in Genetic Medicine

hpv vaccine african american women
Henrietta Lacks was a poor black wife and mother who died of cervical cancer in 1951. The cells from Henrietta’s tumor were given to researcher George Gey, who discovered that  her cells could be kept alive and grow. Ms. Lacks’ material named HeLa were the first human cells successfully cloned. Mrs. Lack’s cells were use without her permission and her family were never informed about the medical advancements made and the millions earned by Henrietta’s genes until the 1980s. They have received no monetary compensation for her It is an ironic that the medical advances brought about by Lack’s contribution are not designed to help those who look like her.

HPV Vaccine May Not Protect Against Subtypes That Most Commonly Affect African American Women

African American women and white women may not be affected by the same subtypes of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a new study suggests, which is troubling considering currently available HPV vaccines do not protect against the subtypes that were most commonly found in African American women.

Researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine examined the HPV subtypes present in 572 people who were part of the Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Cohort Study, all of whom had abnormal Pap tests. Of those women, 280 were African American and 292 were white. They looked particularly at HPV subtypes present in the women’s cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CIN), which are abnormalities in the cervix that are considered precursors to cervical cancer. They wanted to see what differences there may be in early CIN (called CIN1) and more advanced CIN (called CIN2 and CIN3).

“These are young women in the prime of their careers, family and fertility. This means a severely compromised future with a disease that waxes and wanes, affecting every aspect of daily living for the rest of their lives.”  Among the women with early CIN, HPV subtypes 16, 18, 31, 56 39 and 66 were the most frequently detected among white women. For African American women, though, the HPV subtypes 33, 35, 58 and 68 were most frequently detected.

African American Women Develop Lupus at a Younger Age

I lost one of dear friends in college to Lupus. It was not a rarity, black women had very high rates of lupus, with an incidence rate in Georgia nearly three times higher than that for white women, with significantly high rates in the 30-39 age group,” says principal investigator, S. Sam Lim, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology at Emory University School of Medicine.

There are substantial racial disparities in the burden of lupus, according to initial data from the largest and most far-reaching study ever conducted on the disease and published online today by the journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism. The data confirms that black females disproportionately are burdened by lupus, a devastating and complicated autoimmune disease.   “These are young women in the prime of their careers, family and fertility. This means a severely compromised future with a disease that waxes and wanes, affecting every aspect of daily living for the rest of their lives.”

Breast Cancer Gene Mutations More Common in Black Women

Black women with breast cancer are more likely than women in the general population to have genetic mutations linked to their disease, and a significant proportion of those mutations extend beyond the common BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, a new study has found.

In the first comprehensive analysis of all known breast cancer susceptibility genes in a black cohort, mutations were most prevalent in women with early-onset disease, triple-negative disease, or a family history of breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer. The findings suggest that broader genetic screening than is currently clinically available might be warranted in high-risk black patients and their families, said study author Jane Churpek, MD, a hemotologist/oncologist at the University of Chicago.

CDC: African-American women less likely to get mammograms | wtsp.com


The number of patients dying from breast cancer is on the decline… that’s the good news.

The bad news is there’s still a large gap between black and white women in terms of mortality and when one is diagnosed. 

Those are the findings of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Black women still have a disproportionately higher breast cancer death rate: 41 percent higher than white women.  

The report suggests a link between the high mortality rate and data showing black women less frequently use mammography than white women.

via CDC: African-American women less likely to get mammograms | wtsp.com.

ABWW Health Alert: Triple-Negative Breast Cancers Are Increased in Black Women

Please do those monthly exams and get annual mammograms.

Laurie Barclay, MD
April 13, 2009
Triple-negative breast cancers (negative for estrogen receptor [ER], progesterone receptor [PR], and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 [HER2]), are 3-fold more common in black women than in nonblack women, regardless of age or body mass index (BMI), according to the results of a study reported in the March 25 issue of Breast Cancer Research.

“We investigated clinical and pathologic features of breast cancers (BC) in an unselected series of patients diagnosed in a tertiary care hospital serving a diverse population,” write Lesley A. Stead, from Boston University Medical Center in Massachusetts, and colleagues. “We focused on [Tneg] tumours ([ER], [PR] and HER2 negative), which are associated with poor prognosis.”

Between 1998 and 2006, 415 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancers and had available data on tumor grade and stage; ER, PR, and HER2 status; and patient age, BMI, and self-identified racial/ethnic group. Using contingency tables and multivariate logistic regression, the investigators evaluated associations between patient and tumor characteristics.

The patient sample had a wide range of racial and ethnic origins, with birthplace representing a total of 44 countries; 36% were white, 43% black, 10% Hispanic, and 11% other. Obesity, defined as BMI higher than 30 kg/m2, was present in 47%. Tumor receptor status was ER+ and/or PR+ in 72%, triple-negative tumors in 20%, and HER2+ in 13%.

Compared with white women, black women had 3-fold higher odds of having a triple-negative tumor (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6 – 5.5; P = .0001). In black women diagnosed before and after age 50 years, triple-negative tumors were equally prevalent (31% vs 29%; P = not significant). Similarly, prevalence of triple-negative tumors was similar in black women who were obese and nonobese (29% vs 31%; P = not significant). In the overall patient sample, the proportion of triple-negative tumors decreased as BMI increased (P = .08).

Limitations of this study include relatively small sample size and lack of data on clinical outcome or on potential confounders, such as parity.

“Black women of diverse background have 3-fold more Tneg tumours than non-black women, regardless of age and BMI,” the study authors write. “Other factors must determine tumour subtype. The higher prevalence of Tneg tumours in black women in all age and weight categories likely contributes to black women’s unfavorable breast cancer prognosis.”

Arsenic Nanoparticle Fights Breast Cancer in Black Women

African-American women are 10 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women, they are 34 percent more likely to succumb to the disease. Black women also contract the disease at an earlier age. The likelihood of finding breast cancer in black women at age 33 is the same as in finding it in white women at age 40. This breakthrough could increase the longevity African American breast cancer survivors.
Black women in the lowest socioeconomic category were treated less frequently with surgery and had a lower five-year survival rate.

Researchers at Northwestern University combined a drug therapy, which is effective against blood cancers but not solid tumors, with nanotechnology and the end result was a combatant of a powerful type of breast cancer that is most common in young, African-American women.

This aggressive cancer, called triple negative breast cancer, cannot be treated by any sort of life-saving therapies or traditional chemotherapy. More often than not, women with triple negative breast cancer have a low chance of survival.

The drug therapy, arsenic trioxide, which is now commonly used by Western oncologists for certain types of leukemia, is not effective against solid tumors on its own because it is excreted too quickly after being injected into the bloodstream for it to work. The amount if arsenic trioxide injected into the body cannot be increased either, due to its toxicity.

But now, researchers have combined the arsenic trioxide with a nanoparticle called a nanobin, which travels undetected after entering the bloodstream until it reaches the tumor and “attacks” it directly. The nanobin contains nanoparticulate arsenic trioxide embedded within a liposome (a tiny, thick vessel), and is cloaked in a chemical that both extends the nanobin’s life and prohibits other cells from seeing it as it passes through the bloodstream. In addition, exposure of the toxic drug to normal normal tissue as it moves through the bloodstream is limited, and when the nanobin reaches the blood vessel of the tumor, the arsenic nanoparticles are released and buried in the abnormal cells of the tumor.

Richard Ahn, a student in the medical scientists training program at Northwestern, along with Vince Cryns, associate professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at Northwestern Medicine, and Tom O’Halloran, director of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern, have all authored a research paper on the nanobin, which was published in Clinical Cancer Research on July 15.

The nanobin was first tested on mice that contained triple negative breast cancer tumors. Some mice received the nanobin while others received regular arsenic trioxide therapy. The nanobin proved to decrease tumor growth while arsenic trioxide alone was not effective at all.

“The anti-tumor effects of the arsenic nanobins against clinically aggressive triple negative breast tumors in mice are extremely encouraging,” said Cryns. “There’s an urgent need to develop new therapies for poor prognosis triple negative breast cancer.”

The development of this arsenic nanoparticle has opened the door to many other opportunities, such as making other existing cancer drugs, which have been set to the side due to their level of toxicity or because they’re excreted too quickly, more effective in cancer tumor treatment. Researchers are now looking to improve the nanotechnology associated with cancer treatment by “decorating the nanobins with antibodies that recognize markers on tumor cells to increase the drug’s uptake by the tumor.” They’d also like to find a way to deliver two drugs within the same liposome to the tumor.

“Everyone said you can’t use arsenic for solid tumors,” saidO’Halloran. “That’s because they didn’t deliver it the right way. This new technology delivered the drug directly to the tumor, maintained its stability and shielded normal cells from the toxicity. That’s huge.”

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