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Faculty & Staff Honors

$5.7 Million Grant Will Expand Rutgers/Roswell Park African-American Breast Cancer Study

A $5.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01CA185623) will help investigators at Rutgers School of Public Health, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) expand their research into breast cancer in African-American women by exploring the impact of obesity and other health factors on survival and quality of life. The grant will support work over the next five years and was awarded to three principal investigators: Dr. Kitaw Demissie, (Rutgers School of Public Health), Dr. Elisa Bandera, (Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey), and Dr. Chi-Chen Hong, (Roswell Park Cancer Institute).

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Compared to Caucasians, African-American women are more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age and at a later disease stage. According to the American Cancer Society, African-American women also experience higher breast cancer mortality than Caucasians and a lower five-year breast cancer survival rate (78 percent versus 90 percent among Caucasian females). The reasons behind these differences remain unclear.

“Because obesity and related co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension are more common in African-Americans, it is imperative to explore their impact on breast cancer treatment as well as survival and quality of life in this population and determine how optimal management of these conditions contributes to these outcomes,” notes Dr. Bandera, an epidemiologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

This study builds upon a study of risk factors for aggressive breast cancer in Caucasian and African-American women — the Women’s Circle of Health Study (WCHS), led by Dr. Bandera and Dr. Christine Ambrosone, of Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The WCHS so far has recruited more than 1,500 African-American women with breast cancer and more than 1,200 without cancer and is still ongoing. Breast cancer cases are identified from 10 counties in New Jersey through the New Jersey State Cancer Registry, which is a National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database.