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New Way to Predict Breast Cancer in African-American Women


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It may lead to more black women participating breast-cancer exams

By Lisa Chedekel

Boston University

A new way to predict breast cancer risk may lead to more African-American women taking part in breast cancer prevention trials.

Researchers use models to predict risk to determine eligibility for recruitment into prevention trials.

The Gail Model, which accurately predicts breast cancer risk in white women, is known to underestimate African-American women’s risk.

For a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers used prospective data from 55,000 African-American women between the ages of 30 and 69 to develop a breast cancer risk prediction model specifically for African-American women.

Nervous woman
Nervous woman    Boston University photo

The model included family history of breast cancer, history of benign breast disease, age at menarche, age at first birth, bilateral oophorectomy, oral contraceptive use, hormone use, body mass index at age 18, and adult height.

“The model was well-calibrated in that it predicted 486 cases in comparison to an observed 506 cases during the additional five years of follow-up,” says Julie Palmer, senior epidemiologist at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center and professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.

“Based on the Black Women’s Health Study model, 14.6 percent of women age 30-69 were predicted to have a five-year risk of at least 1.66 percent. This is considerably higher than the proportion predicted by previous models to be above that end point.”

Previous breast cancer risk prediction models for African-American women have used information on only a few factors and may have underestimated risk, Palmer says.

“The new model appears to improve prediction and, if used for determining eligibility for entry into prevention trials, would likely result in a greater number of African-American women invited to enroll in the trials.”

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and the National Cancer Institute funded the research.


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