Statisticians have come up with a new and more accurate way to determine whether an African American woman is at risk for developing breast cancer. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that previous risk assessment tools for breast cancer, based on only large groups of white women, actually underestimated the risk for African American women.
The new analysis, called CARE, checked three factors to determine risk for breast cancer in African American women:
•Age at first menstrual cycle
•Family history of breast cancer (mother or sisters)
•Health history (previous breast biopsies with negative results)
The researchers examined records of 3,200 African American women to build the new assessment tool. They used it to evaluate data from two previous breast cancer studies, and found that it more accurately predicted which African American women went on to develop breast cancer than the older method based on data from exclusively white women. The older method missed nearly half of the breast cancer cases in the African American women in the studies.
According to a WebMD article summarizing these results, the NCI research team now recommends the CARE model for counseling African-American women about breast cancer, but cautions that "the CARE model isn’t a do-it-yourself quiz." They warn African American women to “ be sure to keep up with recommended mammograms and other tests, even if you are a low-risk patient.”
Gail, M. H., et al, 2007. “Protecting Individualized Absolute Invasive Breast Cancer Risk in African American Women,” J Natl Cancer Inst. http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/djm223
Hill, M., 2007. “Black Women’s Breast Cancer Risk Tested,” Web MD.
Paddock, C., 2007. “Predicting Breast Cancer Risk in African American Women Improved,” Medical News Today.
The National Women’s Health Information Center, 2006. A minority women’s health site on breast cancer: http://www.womenshealth.gov/minority/africanamerican/bc.cfm
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