Yale scientists are trying to develop a blood test to diagnose breast cancer in Hispanic women, who are at greater risk of dying from the disease than other white women.
Professor Nita Maihle will look for biomarkers that could detect cancer in Hispanic women months before conventional imaging can today.
Hispanic women are more likely to have large, later stage tumors when they are diagnosed, explained Diana Rowden, survivorship and outcomes vice president for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is funding the study with a $270,000 grant.
Hispanic women are also typically diagnosed at younger ages than non-Hispanic white women. Some develop cancers in their 30s and 40s, younger than federal guidelines advise most women to have mammograms.
Differences in stage of diagnosis persist even when studies control for factors like access to or quality of care.
“What’s going on is likely something biologically that’s not understood,” said Rowden.
The five-year survival rate for Hispanic women with breast cancer is 86 percent, four points lower than the rate for non-Hispanic white women, according to the American Cancer Society.
The grant will provide training in Maihle’s lab for early career scientists to examine racial health disparities, where more research is needed, Rowden added.