A new tool helps predict breast cancer risk for Black women


Early detection of breast cancer is linked to better outcomes and for some a cure. An important part of making decisions about breast cancer screening and prevention is knowing your own breast cancer risk. Many factors need to be considered including your personal medical history, your family history of cancer and whether you have any inherited mutations in genes that alter breast cancer risk.

Specific tools can be used to identify people who would benefit from early screening, additional screening and chemoprevention, as well as those who would most benefit from genetic counseling and testing. These tools account for differences among people in factors that are tied to breast cancer risk. They calculate a breast cancer risk score that is tailored for a specific person.

Because these tools were developed using information mostly from white women, they do not predict cancer risk as well for Black women. Black women on average are diagnosed with breast cancer at earlier ages than white women and are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced disease.

Because of these gaps, researchers wanted to create a tool that could be used by Black women and their doctors to better determine risk for developing breast cancer. They developed their breast cancer risk tool based on information from several large studies of Black women in the United States.Then they tested how useful this tool was with data from Black Women’s Health Study of almost 60,000 self-identified Black women in the U.S., including nearly 1,500 Black women with breast cancer. In their study, published in December 2021, they showed that this tool works well, especially for younger Black women.

FORCE has reviewed the original scientific study as part of our XRAY program to summarize important cancer research for the community.

Read our full review to learn more about this new breast cancer prediction tool.

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