Health & Wellbeing

Researchers Develop Breast Cancer Prediction Tool for Black Women

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Researchers from Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center have developed and evaluated a risk prediction model for breast cancer in U.S. Black women. Epidemiologic studies of breast cancer have hampered efforts to derive and test models for use in Black women. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Black women are more likely to develop breast cancer at earlier ages and with a worse prognosis than White women. Therefore, this population’s lack of enrollment in epidemiologic studies of breast cancer has impeded efforts to derive and test models for use in Black women.

The disproportionately high rate of breast cancer deaths among black women has made improvement in early detection of breast cancer in this population critical, especially in young Black women who have not yet reached the ages at which mammographic screening is typically begun. This is according to corresponding author Julie Palmer, ScD, director of BU’s Slone Epidemiology Center and the Karin Grunebaum Professor in Cancer Research at Boston University School of Medicine via a press release.

The researchers utilized epidemiologic data from three case-control studies of Black women from various regions of the U.S. to build a new risk prediction model. Subsequently, they tested the model using 15 years of follow-up data from 51,798 Boston University Black Women’s Health Study participants.

The results showed that discriminatory accuracy was similar to that of the most frequently used questionnaire-based breast cancer risk prediction models in White women and was best- used in women under age 40.

According to the researchers, the model is simple to use, and all the information required can be obtained from participants with a few simple questions. According to Palmer, “this new tool for personalized prediction of breast cancer risk in Black women can be easily used by primary care providers to guide screening recommendations and/or referral for genetic testing, particularly for young Black women, thus leading to earlier diagnosis and reduced mortality.”

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