Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that African ancestry is linked to an aggressive type of breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer. Studying both Ghanaian and African-American women with breast cancer, scientists found that 82% of the African women had triple negative breast cancer, while 26% of Black American women did. Triple negative breast cancer is considerably harder to treat because it requires that doctors individually target each of three receptors (estrogen, progesterone and the HER-2/neu protein). “The most significant recent advances in breast cancer treatment have involved targeting these three receptors. But these treatments do not help women with triple-negative breast cancer,” said study author Lisa A. Newman M.D., M.P.H. “We hope that by studying breast cancer in African and African-American women we can identify biomarkers that might be useful for assessing risk or treating triple-negative breast cancer.” Studies have shown that, like African-American women, Ghanaian women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and are more likely to die from it.
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