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Black Women at Higher Risk for Aggressive Breast Tumors

Triple negative growths 3 times more likely regardless of age, weight, study finds

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Black women are three times more likely than women of other races to develop aggressive breast cancer, a U.S. study finds.

The United States has the highest rate of cancer in the world. Black women have a lower overall rate of breast cancer than white women, but when black women do get breast cancer, it's often more advanced when it's diagnosed, is more likely to return after treatment, and has a less favorable outcome.

In this study, Boston University School of Medicine researchers analyzed data on 415 breast cancer cases. They looked at clinical features such as patient age, weight and race/ethnicity, and pathological features including the "triple negative" pattern -- tumors that lack expression of the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor, and the HER2 gene.

"The odds of having a triple negative tumor were three times higher for black women than for non-black women in the study," research leader Dr. Carol Rosenberg said in a news release. "Previously, it was known that premenopausal black women had more triple negative tumors. What we found that was new was that these tumors were just as common in black women diagnosed before or after age 50, and in those who were or were not obese."

"The higher prevalence of triple negative breast tumors in black women in all age and weight categories likely contributes to black women's unfavorable breast cancer prognosis," Rosenberg said.

The study was published recently in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer risk.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, March 24, 2009

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