The research will also investigate disparities in modifiable risk factors for breast cancer and may help uncover reasons for the higher mortality from breast cancer among African-American women.
The first study funded under this grant will take a look at the protein level in blood samples from 200 African-American and Caucasian women at high risk and 200 at low risk for developing breast cancer. Serum proteomic profiles will be compared between the two groups. "Our long-term hope is that eventually it may be possible to develop a blood test to identify women at high risk for breast cancer so that measures can be developed to prevent the cancer from occurring or to identify it early enough when it is more readily treatable," said William Blot, Ph.D., professor of Medicine and project coordinator.
According to the American Cancer Society, over 200,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Julie Means-Powell, M.D., a medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer and serves as principal investigator on the proteomics study, will work closely with pulmonologist and critical care specialist, Pierre Massion, M.D., to try to identify some of those women who are at risk. Massion has examined proteomic profiles in lung cancer and will provide scientific support to look for similar profiles in breast cancer. "We hope we can build on the current Gail Model (the current tool used in the United States to predict a woman's risk for breast cancer)," said Massion. "We will add serum proteomic signatures and genetic signatures to the predictive model," he added.