THE RESEARCH PROJECTTriple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive sub-type of breast cancer that does not express any of the markers for which we have targeted therapies: estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or HER2/neu. TNBC is more common among young breast cancer patients and African American women, with the highest frequency of TNBC being in western, sub-Saharan African populations. Thus, African ancestry may be associated with a genetic risk factor for TNBC.
The goal of this research project is to expand upon an existing international collaborative effort between the University of Michigan, the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana. Dr. Newman has collaborated with the oncology team at KATH over the past five years. During this time she has brought multiple teams of medical students and trainees to Kumasi with the dual purposes of medical missionary work and registry recruitment efforts for the University of Michigan Multi-Ethnic Breast Registry. In addition, this collaboration has allowed Dr. Newman to sponsor Ghanaian colleagues to visit the University of Michigan to learn about multidisciplinary breast cancer management and how to adapt these strategies for use in the Komfo Anokye breast clinic.
The University of Michigan Multi-Ethnic Breast Registry contains tumor samples and pathology data for several hundred breast cancer patients from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Approximately 30 percentof these are from African Americans. In addition, through this collaboration, tissue samples and data have been collected from more than 200 Ghanaian patients (half are breast cancer cases and half are control cases).
Through Komen funding, the investigators will recruit 60 additional breast cancer cases from Ghana. These newly diagnosed patients will complete a questionnaire to provide data on breast cancer risk factors related to reproductive history, diet, and environment. Tumor samples will be collected from the Ghanaian patients and brought back to the United States for further analyses. In addition, approximately 300 samples from the UM Multi-Ethnic Breast Registry, including those recruited from Ghana, will be analyzed for expression of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, HER2/neu, and a marker of mammary stem cells. The information from these analyses will be combined with DNA sequencing information (paid for by another source) to correlate the frequency of TNBC in premenopausal African American, white American, and Ghanaian patients. Ultimately, these studies should provide critical information regarding risk factors for triple negative breast cancer, and may identify markers that would guide treatment and/or prevention of TNBC.
ABOUT THE INVESTIGATORLisa A. Newman, MD, MPH, FACS
Dr. Newman is Professor of Surgery and Director of the Breast Care Center for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She also serves as Program Director for the Breast Fellowship. Dr. Newman obtained her undergraduate education and Masters Degree in Public Health from Harvard University. She attended medical school and completed her general surgery residency training at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn. She completed her fellowship in surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
She has done extensive research related to disparities in breast cancer risk and outcomes, which has been published in numerous peer-reviewed medical journals. She holds leadership positions with the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and serves as section editor for the journals Cancer and Annals of Surgical Oncology. She maintains a very active community service record, and currently serves as Chief National Medical Advisor for the Sisters Network, Inc., a national African American breast cancer survivors support organization. Her current disparities-related research program involves a partnership between the University of Michigan and the Komfo Anoyke Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.