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Race May Play Role in Presentation of Triple-negative Breast Cancer in Hispanic Women

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:34am
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  • Disease prevalence similar between Hispanics in Puerto Rico and California.
  • Researchers suggest that biology of disease drives tumor behavior.
  • Expression of estrogen receptor associated with better prognosis.

CHICAGO — Hispanic women in Puerto Rico who have triple-negative breast cancer share similar disease characteristics with Hispanic women in California, suggesting that race plays a significant role in the presentation of triple-negative breast cancer among Hispanic women.

These study results were presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

“We think the fact that our patients are geographically located outside the mainland and still have the same disease characteristics suggests that the biology of the disease plays a major role in how the disease is expressed in these patients compared with other factors that have been considered like socioeconomic status, access to treatment, etc.,” said Edna M. Mora, M.D., associate professor in the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine department of surgery and the University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Based on our results, we speculate that the biology of the disease promotes the tumors to be more aggressive,” she said. “Knowing that biology is important, because then we can develop different treatment strategies for the different subtypes of triple-negative cancers.”

Overall, Hispanic women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, but among those who develop the disease, prognosis and survival are poor, Mora said.

In this cross-sectional study, the researchers analyzed data from 1,082 women with breast cancer who were diagnosed between 2000 and 2005. Mora and colleagues obtained data from hospital cancer registries and through a medical record review.

The prevalence of triple-negative breast cancer was 16.3 percent, which is comparable to the percentage among Hispanics in California, Mora said. Compared with women with HER2-negative, estrogen receptor-positive disease, patients in the triple-negative group were younger at diagnosis and had larger tumor size, invasive ductal histology and higher tumor grades. 

Most importantly, these results showed that the HER2-negative patients whose tumors expressed estrogen receptors had a dramatically different disease presentation and better outcomes, Mora said.

“When the patient’s tumor expressed estrogen receptor, it made a significant difference in terms of how the patient responds to therapy and behaves in terms of survival,” she said.

Press registration for the AACR Annual Meeting 2012 is free to qualified journalists and public information officers: www.aacr.org/PressRegistration.

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About the AACR

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. 

For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.

Media Contact:

Jeremy Moore

(215) 446-7109

Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org

In Chicago, March 31 – April 4:

(312) 528-8206

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