d this had the surprising finding that the basal-like subtype was more than twice as frequent in younger African American women with breast cancer versus everyone else,' Perou said. Among premenopausal African Americans with breast cancer, this type makes up 39 percent compared with postmenopausal African Americans (14 percent) or Caucasians of any age (16 percent).'
The JAMA report notes that the high prevalence of basal-like breast tumors and a lower prevalence of a subtype associated with a more favorable outlook for survival, luminal A, could contribute to the higher breast cancer mortality in younger black women.
There are treatment implications of these findings.
As Carey, medical director of the UNC Breast Center and a Lineberger clinical faculty member, points out, “Right now, the only available treatment for basal-like breast cancer is chemotherapy. Fortunately, while there are no targeted treatments yet for basal-like breast tumors, some of the newer chemotherapies tend to benefit this subtype more than other subtypes.
'In addition, there are many new drugs that we will be evaluating in clinical trials to try to provide a targeted treatment for patients with this subtype of breast cancer.'
Millikan said, 'This is important information to know, since it means that African American women, like all breast cancer patients, need the best possible diagnostic workups and access to the latest clinical trials. It will be extremely important for these findings to be validated in other patient populations, and to engage breast cancer advocacy groups to ensure that the findings are translated into better care and access to clinical trials for all breast cancer patients.'
'My advice for young African American women,' added Carey, 'is the same as my advice for all women: Get regular health care.'
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