Luciane R. Cavalli, PhD, assistant professor at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center explains this new work:
“Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer where limited treatment is available. These tumors are the leading cause of breast cancer death in African-American women, which are usually diagnosed at an earlier age and in more advanced stages of the disease, when compared with White women. The main objective of our study was to identify molecular markers in these patients that may be associated with their observed disparity in incidence and mortality rates.
“Using genome-wide screening methods, we identified a distinct pattern of DNA copy number (genome regions with gains and losses) and miRNA (small non-coding regions in the genome) expression levels associated significantly with the African American triple negative breast cancer patients, when compared with White TNBC patients. This association was observed irrespectively of their clinical and pathological characteristics, including age, tumor size, stage and grade and presence of axillary lymph node metastasis.
“These initial findings indicate specific genetic alterations, involved in critical cancer related pathways and networks, in the triple negative breast cancer of African American women that might present an impact for their prognosis and treatment, ultimately contributing to an increase in their overall survival rate.”