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Special Spotlight:
Breast Health Disparity Research Highlights

Breast Cancer Awareness and ribbon

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

During the month of October, CRCHD joins the rest of our nation in spotlighting Breast Cancer Awareness. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among all women, with an approximate 1 in 8 being diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime.

Despite advances in cancer research, treatment, and prevention, there are an estimated 2,829,041 women currently living with breast cancer in the United States. Of those women, our underserved populations continue to experience a disproportionately higher share of the cancer burden.

In light of this, CRCHD would like to recognize the contributions of NIH/NCI-supported researchers through their research, prevention, and training initiatives aimed specifically at addressing the disparate effect that breast cancer has on our underserved populations.

African American women suffer from the highest mortality rate related to breast cancer, despite lower incidence relative to White women. Patricia E. Berg, Ph.D., a CRCHD R21 recipient, focuses her research on the category of tumor biology for this population. Berg and colleagues are investigating the importance of cell development processes that increase the spontaneous movement of cells and appear to promote very aggressive breast cancers among African American women.

Another CRCHD grantee, Maria Elena Martinez, Ph.D., M.A., is focusing on epigenetics—genetic changes that result from carcinogenic environmental factors with funding provided under a U01 grant. Her research specifically addresses how epigenetic changes associated with pregnancy can increase breast cancer risk, particularly among Hispanic women. These women, like African American women, have lower incidence but higher breast cancer mortality rates relative to non-Hispanic whites.

Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH, a current U54 grantee, and her colleagues recently conducted a study on ways to increase breast cancer screening amongst the female Micronesian population, whose utilization of breast cancer screening as a preventative measure was at a low 26% of all women 40 years and older. Feel free to read through this article to find out more about the success story linked to this exciting study.

These and other pivotal advances in the field of cancer research are currently taking place, but there is always room for improvement. Take the time to educate yourself on this topic by reading through this informational online booklet, and visiting the NCI Web page focused on breast cancer to learn more about statistics, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Updated: 11/18/14