Rutgers School of Public Health MPH epidemiology student, Mr. Pavel Karmata was awarded membership into the American College of Epidemiology for his research on breast cancer. As part of Rutgers’ MPH curriculum, Mr. Karmata conducted a fieldwork project that examined disparity in breast cancer aggressiveness between Black and White women. His study entitled, “Tumor grade of breast cancer diagnosed in black and white women: a retrospective analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database (1973-2013)” received the “Outstanding Student Poster Award” at the New York City Epidemiological Forum (NYCEF) on February 17.
Mr. Karmata’s research analyzed data from nine regional cancer registries that cover approximately 10% of U.S. population and participate in the SEER program, a population-based registry of incident cancers. The results of his research showed that invasive, small-sized breast cancers (2 cm or smaller) were more than twice as likely to be poorly differentiated (high-grade) relative to well-differentiated (low-grade) when diagnosed in black women compared with whites during the study period. High tumor grade is associated with poor disease prognosis. Before 1984-1988, the odds of developing high-grade vs low-grade small breast cancer were not significantly different by race but steadily increased to the most recent analyzed period 2009-2013. These results indicate that racial disparity in breast cancer grade has significantly increased in the last 30 years and point to a possible impact of growing racial inequalities in modifiable lifestyle factors on development of aggressive breast cancer.
Mr. Karmata received a year of Associate Membership to the American College of Epidemiology as part of his award. The American College of Epidemiology serves the interests of its members through sponsorship of scientific meetings, publications, and educational activities, recognizing outstanding contributions to the field and advocating for issues pertinent to epidemiology.
When asked to describe his passion for epidemiology, Mr. Karmata said, “I have a long-standing interest in health differences between populations, particularly in chronic diseases, such as, cancer and the Rutgers School of Public Health has a strong academic program in epidemiology and a productive collaboration with investigators from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.”