A study comparing, for the first time, breast cancers from Nigeria, Senegal and North America has found that women of African ancestry are more likely to be diagnosed with a more virulent form of the disease than women of European ancestry.
Researchers from the University of Chicago, working with colleagues at the University of Calabar in Nigeria and the University of North Carolina, found that breast cancers in African women produce a different pattern of gene expression. Tumors from African women -- from three locations in Nigeria and one in Senegal -- are more likely to originate from a different group of cells within the breast and often do not present the molecular targets that form the basis of many standard therapies.
"We have known for a long time that breast cancer is not one disease and that it may be somehow different in Africa," said study author Funmi Olopade, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago. "But there was no real sense of how much of that was biology and how much was environment. Now we have clear evidence that nature plays an important role. These tumors are biologically quite different in ways that make this a worse disease."
John Easton | EurekAlert!
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