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Studies Reveal Why Breast Cancer Hits Black Women Harder
Date:11/29/2007

Biology and genetics appear to be key factors, researchers say

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Biology and genetics -- over and above socio-economic factors -- appear to influence how black women fare after being diagnosed with breast cancer, U.S. researchers are reporting.

One new study found discrepancies in survival rates between black breast cancer patients and their white counterparts, indicating that cancer screening guidelines may need to be revised.

A second study, conducted by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, found clear genetic differences in the breast cancer tumors of black women as compared with white women. This could influence how the disease progresses and how it responds to therapy, the study authors said.

These findings are in line with previous research.

"Those of us who treat breast cancer every day are well aware that African-Americans just have a more aggressive breast cancer. Stage for stage, they do worse," said Dr. Brenda J. Sickle-Santanello, senior medical director of Breast Health Services at Ohio Health and medical director of oncology at Grant Medical Center in Columbus.

"African-Americans are underrepresented in research studies. I hope this will heighten awareness to people who do the research to try and target African-American populations," she added.

The new studies and other research documenting racial disparities in breast cancer are being presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, in Atlanta.

Differences in breast cancer survival rates between black and white women are often attributed to non-biological reasons, such as access to health care and various socio-economic factors. While these factors are no doubt important, a growing body of research also points to biological expla
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