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Studying the Breast Cancer Disparity

The US National Institutes of Health has launched a study to examine the role of genetics in breast cancer among African-American women.

While women with breast cancer have increasingly fared better than previous, these gains haven't been shared among African-American women as black women are more likely to die of the disease, the NIH notes. In addition, African-American women are twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive subtype.

To explore these disparities, NIH says it is bringing together data collected by investigators from the African-American Breast Cancer Consortium, the African-American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk Consortium, and the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium. This amalgamation of data — dubbed the Breast Cancer Genetic Study in African-Ancestry Populations initiative — will represent some 20,000 black women with breast cancer, it adds. Genomes from these women will then be compared to those from 20,000 black women without breast cancer as well as to those from white women with breast cancer.

"I'm hopeful about where this new research can take us, not only in addressing the unique breast cancer profiles of African-American women, but also in learning more about the origin of cancer disparities," says Douglas Lowy acting director of NCI in a statement.