A team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York has found that among women with a first breast cancer, black women are more likely to have larger tumors and to have more positive lymph nodes than white women. Positive lymph nodes are associated with an increase in risk of the cancer spreading. Their research will be published in the September 15 issue of Cancer.
According to the analysis, black women were 24% more likely to have one or more positive lymph nodes at breast cancer diagnosis than white women.
African American women are also more likely to have triple-negative cancers, meaning the tumor is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative. Unfortunately, the treatment options for these tumors are much more limited. The report’s co-author, Russell McBride, suspects that "there are a number of negative exposures in the course of life (in African American women) that increase risk of triple-negative cancers."
While some researchers struggle to understand the differences in breast cancer—rates, tumor types, diagnosis and treatment—among races, other researchers are focusing upstream and asking, “How are environmental exposures playing a role in higher breast cancer rates for African American women?”
BCF and The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute want to get the word out about the environmental risks of breast cancer in the African American community. There are things we can do right now to reduce our exposures. Download the BCF/UPCI African American brochure and email us if you would like to receive hard copies of the brochure for use in your community.