Genetic research may advance understanding of ethnic differences in breast cancer

October 29, 2012, American Association for Cancer Research

For the first time, researchers have provided a direct comparison of gene expression profiles from African-American and East African breast tissue samples, according to results presented at the Fifth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, held Oct. 27-30, 2012.

The research, which began at the University of Miami in Florida and continues at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), should expand researchers' understanding of across different ethnicities. This knowledge may lead to new preventive, predictive and treatment measures, according to Lisa Baumbach-Reardon, Ph.D., associate professor in TGen's Integrated Cancer Genomics Division in Arizona and director of 's DNA in Cancer Genomics.

Epidemiologic evidence indicates that breast cancer is the second-leading cause of among African-American women. Compared with Caucasians, African-Americans have a 20 percent higher mortality rate.
 
"Ethnic-specific differences exist in genes expressed in breast cancer tissue across ethnicities," said Baumbach-Reardon. "Understanding significant ethnicity-specific differences will help us to better understand how and why breast cancer differs across different ethnicities and will ultimately help us to translate this knowledge into clinical practice."

Researchers analyzed archived breast cancer pathology samples obtained from either the University of Miami or the Nairobi Cancer Registry. Forty-seven breast cancer samples came from Kenya. After reanalysis, the researchers confirmed that 29 of the Kenyan cases were triple-negative breast cancer; a high percentage of these cases were in an advanced stage and were high-grade.

"It is known that in this African region, breast cancer presents as an advanced-stage disease, composed mainly of poorly differentiated cancers that are less likely to be hormone-responsive (i.e., triple-negative breast cancer)," said Baumbach-Reardon. "This is very similar to the presentation of African-American women with breast cancer in the United States."

Initial data analyses indicated there are gene expression differences within several key pathways, including signal transduction in the AKT signaling pathway, according to Baumbach-Reardon.

She and her colleagues also presented data on chromosomal aberrations and variants in a subset of the Kenyan samples.

The researchers do not yet fully understand why triple-negative breast cancer is overrepresented in women of African descent, although it is clear that multiple factors play a role, according to Baumbach-Reardon.

Explore further: Childbearing may increase risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer in African-American women

Related Stories

Childbearing may increase risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer in African-American women

August 16, 2011
African-American women are at higher risk for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult subtypes to treat, but this risk could be ameliorated somewhat by breast-feeding their children.

Researchers discover a DNA marker may indicate differences in breast cancer

June 2, 2012
Researchers and doctors at the North Shore-LIJ Health System and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have discovered a potential explanation for why breast cancer is not experienced the same way with African American ...

Vitamin D influences racial differences in breast cancer risk

April 4, 2012
American women of African ancestry are more likely than European Americans to have estrogen receptor (ER) negative breast cancer. There continues to be discussion about the role of low levels of vitamin D in the development ...

Recommended for you

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.