Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Karien Dixon - Tougaloo College
Co-Author(s): Ailis Powderly, Laura Muller, and Laura Bierut
Introduction: As a result of high incidence and mortality rates, breast cancer remains a major health problem for women in the United States and other parts of the world. The incidence rate of breast cancer in African-American women is much lower than Caucasian women; however, the mortality rate due to breast cancer in African-American women is significantly higher than the general population. One reason may be due to limited knowledge about the genetic contributors of breast cancer in African-American women.
Hypothesis: African-American community would participate in genetic research if provided an opportunity.
Methods: We recruited community-based women who self-identified as African American and had/have breast cancer. A computer-assisted interview was administered to collect information regarding the participants’ personal and family health histories. We also assessed participants’ perceptions of risk and health care planning and whether they had received previous genetic testing. Participants provided a saliva sample, which was sent to Color Genomics, Inc. for genetic testing.
Results: Eighty-nine (89) African-American women with breast cancer were invited to participate, and 36 accepted, for a participation rate of 41%. Fifty-three (53) women refused to participate; 38 reported study-related reasons such as disinterest or not wanting to get genetic testing; 15 reported participant-related reasons such as fatigue or lack of transportation. The average age of participants was 58, with a range of 29-81. Women who were referred by their physician were 38% more likely to participate than those referred by another source. Of the 36 participants, 61.1% reported having a biological parent or a sibling with cancer. The sample was highly educated, with an average education level of 3 years of college, and all participants were high school graduates. Over 31% of participants reported having previous genetic testing. Of the 22 participants who have received genetic results from Color Genomics, 1 was positive for a genetic mutation and 7 have received complimentary genetic counseling to date.
Conclusion: Contrary to popularly held beliefs, African-American women will participate in genetic research studies. However, the education level of this sample was much higher than the average for the St. Louis region. Over half of the participants reported having a parent or a sibling with cancer, which may suggest inherited genetic mutations increase the risk of breast cancer. Results also indicate that breast cancer patients may be more receptive to genetic testing when referred by their oncologists. Future directions are to conduct follow up interviews with participants to access their understanding of genetic results.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Jackson Heart Study, Amgen Scholars Foundation, Barnes Jewish Hospital Foundation, Siteman Cancer Center
Faculty Advisor: Laura Bierut, email@example.com
Role: I recruited, interviewed, and took saliva samples from participants.