African Americans, Hispanics at Higher Risk of Cancer

From an article on the differing affects of Breast Cancer in different races of women:

They examined the DNA of more than 1,700 breast cancer patients in the Bay Area. They were looking for a mutation in a gene known as Bricka one or BRCA1.

“We explored the topic because women who have a harmful mutation in brca1 have a high risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Esther John from Northern California Cancer Center.

Dr. Esther John wanted to know if race makes a difference. Scientists already know that BRCA1 is most common in Ashkenazi Jews.

The new study looked at other racial and ethnic groups and discovered that Latinos are also at high risk.

Elaine Baca doesn’t seem surprised.

“I do have a family history of breast cancer. my mother was diagnosed at age 36. She was a survivor for about 30 years,” said Baca.

Researchers tested 100 Latina breast cancer patients. Just over three had the BRCA1 gene.

Of 100 white patients: 2.2, African Americans 1.3 and Asian Americans a half percent.

And age apparently matters. The researchers were quite surprised to find the mutations are most common among young women, those diagnosed before the age of 35, especially young black women.

“We found it is 16 percent or 16 out of 100 young African-American patients who were diagnosed before the age of 35,” said Dr. John.

That finding may lead more doctors to recommend genetic testing and develop culturally sensitive screenings.

It should certainly steer more women in high risk groups toward early detection.

“Since age 25 I’ve been getting mammograms regularly, once a year,” said Baca.


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