Caribbean women in cancer study

luigimarshall, luigimarshall@nationnews.com

Added 08 September 2011

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DALLAS -- University of Miami researchers are to investigate the role of genetics in trying to learn why Caribbean women appear to be at high risk of inheriting an aggressive form of breast cancer. The American breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, announced here on Thursday a USD$ 600 000 grant to the study. University of Miami researcher Judith Hurley will study 1 000 breast cancer patients from four Caribbean countries, looking for genetic mutations that are responsible for some breast cancers. Evidence from research with oncologists in the Bahamas suggests that women with the inherited form of breast cancer there were younger than the women in the United States. “The gene is passed along from mother to daughter, or father to daughter, or father to son. It can come from both sides. It doesn’t just come from your mom,” Hurley said. The grants from Komen for the Cure will allow for expanded testing, CBS4 television said. “Women who have an inherited form of breast cancer have a younger age of onset of their breast cancer,” Hurley told the station. “Our research investments are geared to bringing results to the table - and soon - for the most difficult questions that remain in breast cancer," said the charity’s founder and chief executive Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker. The mutations are BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, found in 23 per cent of women with breast cancer in the Bahamas. Among American women, the aggressive cancer genes account for only three per cent to five per cent. Mutations of these genes are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The researchers and their funder are hoping to extend the results of the Caribbean women study to black Americans. “If you can begin to get ideas on how to deal with breast cancer in the African Caribbean group, maybe that window can be opened larger and you can start exporting that information to African American women,” Hurley told CBS4 television. "This research may lead to a better understanding of issues unique to black women throughout the Caribbean and in the United States, as we attempt to address breast cancer's impacts across diverse groups," said Elizabeth Thompson, Komen’s president. Named for Brinker’s sister who died from the disease more than 30 years ago, the Komen for the Cure has invested 66 million dollars investment in new research, patient support and scientific conferences in 2011, making it the largest charity funder for breast cancer research in the United States and second only to the US government, the organisation said. The foundation said it has spent more than 685 million dollars for breast cancer research in its 29 years, making it the largest non-profit funder of breast cancer research outside of the federal government. (CMC)    

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