As October comes to a close, we can begin to say goodbye to a world awash in pink! We have been made aware of the risks for breast cancer. We’ve heard about ways to diagnose it that might be better than mammograms, and read about “groundbreaking” and “game changing” new treatments.
This “pink cloud” often masks not only the realities of a breast cancer diagnosis but also how limited our research has been. Most breast cancer research is still done on laboratory rats and mice. And when we do study women, we still do not enroll significant numbers of women of color!
Why is this a problem? Hereditary breast cancer provides a good example. Most patients who have genetic testing to see if they carry a BRCA gene mutation are tested for the mutations that were discovered in Caucasian women. Yet recent research has shown that Latinas living in Los Angeles carry a specific founder mutation that traces back to the Aztecs, while African-American women are more likely to carry mutations that came from Western Africa. We do not yet provide the routine mutation testing to African-American women and Latinas with family histories of breast cancer that we do for Jewish women at high risk.
In addition, African-American women are more likely than women of other ethnic or racial groups to develop triple negative breast cancer, a more aggressive subtype. Why? We won’t know unless we expand our horizons and include more women of color in our studies.
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation launched the Army of Women® to help researchers more easily find participants for their clinical research. It is an email list that lets you know about all kinds of research studies looking for participants with and without a breast cancer diagnosis. To date, we’ve helped enroll more than 100,000 women and men in 128 studies. However, we need YOU to help diversify the Army of Women. This October we launched our Commit to Love program to make sure that the research will represent everyone!
We need your help, to not only sign up for the Army of Women®, but to spread the word. If we are going to end breast cancer for everyone we need everyone to participate in the research!