African-American identity among women with a prior diagnosis of benign breast disease (BBD) is a significant risk factor for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.1

Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of data to examine whether African-American identity was associated with TNBC among women with a prior diagnosis of BBD.

Researchers evaluated data from 2588 African-American women and 3566 white American women between the ages of 40 and 70 years who had a biopsy-proven diagnosis of BBD. Care was found to be delivered “equitably” between the 2 groups of women based on case management, follow-up and treatment outcomes.

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Among African-American women, the 10-year probability estimate for the development of TNBC was 0.56% compared to 0.25% among Caucasian women.

A total of 103 African-American women (4.1%) and 143 Caucasian women (4%) had developed subsequent breast cancers, with over three-fourths of these cancers between the 2 groups being ductal carcinoma in situ or stage I.

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Sixteen of 66 African-American women with subsequent invasive breast cancer and complete biomarker data had developed TNBC compared to 7 of 94 Caucasian women.

“This study is the largest analysis to date of TNBC in the context of racial/ethnic identity and BBD as risk factors,” the authors noted. “This finding suggests that African-American identity is associated with inherent susceptibility for TNBC pathogenetic pathways.”


  1. Newman LA, Stark A, Chitale D, et al. Association between benign breast disease in African American and white American women and subsequent triple-negative breast cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2016 Dec 22. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.5598 [Epub ahead of print]