The National Institute of Health has announced a $12 million grant for the breast cancer genetic study in African-Ancestry. The initiative comes after dozens of studies revealed black women are more likely to die of their disease and they are more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive forms of breast cancer.
While survival rates have increased for breast cancer patients, that is not the case for black women, who are more likely diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and aggressive sub-type that's twice as high in black women than white women.
Kimberly Rusununguko says the disease has impacted her family three times and even gave her a scare at a young age. We found Kimberly running with her fitness group Black Girls Run, Indianapolis.
"Because I know this about our family I actually started checking for lumps early on in my early twenties. Probably 22-25 I discover what I now know was a cyst," Kimberly said.
Kimberly was clear but she still gets routine screenings, eats well and exercises with Black Girls Run Indy. A group of women who are well aware health is wealth since black women are twice as likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than white women.
"It makes me really sad and kind of anxious because what is the causal factor that is implanting such an aggressive cancer into African American women," Kimberly said.
That's what the National Institute of Health and other cancer researchers will work to find out. What's the link between African ancestry and breast cancer. The study will specifically look at the triple negative diagnosis that's so aggressive there's no pill to fight it from the inside.
"Its more likely to present with disease in the lymph nodes. Patients are more likely to die from their cancer and we have less limited options in terms of treatment," said IU Health Breast Care Program Medical Director, Dr. Kandice Ludwig.
This study will look at 20,000 black women with breast cancer and 20,000 black women without it and compare that data to the breast cancer found in thousands of white women.
Dr. Ludwig says she sees black women of all ages who work out, have access to healthcare, and eat well being diagnosed at an alarming rate.
"But studies have shown even if you control for all of those factors there's something else that's still there and they think it's the African ancestry link."
Minority scientists will team up with researchers from Vanderbilt, the University of Southern California and Boston University. The study will take five years to complete.