Study: Formula underestimates blacks' breast cancer danger

New research suggests that a formula currently used to calculate women's risk of breast cancer understates the risk for most black women, particularly those over age 50. That's a troubling failing, given that women over 50 are most likely to benefit from screening tests and protective drugs, that more than 19,000 African-American women are diagnosed with cancer each year. (Has this model been contributing to the lower rates of breast cancer treatment for black women?) The new findings on the formula were published yesterday by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The discovery came when researchers re-evaluated the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (better known as the Gail model), which is widely used for broad populations, but based on data collected from about 240,000 white women. Researchers changed the model, however, when they collected additional data on more than 3,200 black women. Changes in the Gail model could lead to changes in how physicians care for older women, including more prescribing of mammograms and more use of cancer-fighter tamoxifen.

To find out more about the discovery:
- read this piece from The Washington Post

Related Articles:
Study: Black women get less breast cancer treatment. Report
Racial disparities persist in health outcomes. Report
Medicare should help fix disparities. Report
Researchers fight for ethnic diversity in trials. Report