The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has provided a 12 million dollar grant to fund a collaborative study on breast cancer genetics in African American women. This will be the largest study of its kind to date.1

This study, called the Breast Cancer Genetic Study in African-Ancestry Populations, will not involve new patient enrollment, but will rather rely upon data sharing of biospecimens, patient data, and data from previous clinical studies, of 20,000 African American women with breast cancer. The shared data will be contributed by the African American Breast Cancer Consortium, the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium, and the NCI Cohort Consortium.

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In the past several decades, survival rates have dramatically improved for women with breast cancer, though African American women are still more likely to die of the disease. The most difficult variety of breast cancer to treat­—triple-negative breast cancer—occurs twice as often in African American women as in Caucasians.

Researchers intend to compare and contrast the data of 20,000 African American women with breast cancer with those of 20,000 healthy African American controls.

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If genetic factors can be identified as playing a causal role in the development of breast cancer, particularly of the triple-negative variety, clinicians will be better able to precisely target screenings and treatments to specific patient groups.

The NCI press office states that “support for ongoing research in this area represents NCI’s continued commitment to fund a comprehensive portfolio of research aimed at reducing cancer risk, incidence, and mortality, as well as improving quality of life for cancer survivors across all demographic groups.”


1. National Cancer Institute Press Office. NCI launches largest-ever study of breast cancer genetics in black women. Published July 6, 2016. Accessed July 7, 2016.