New Tool Accurately Assesses Breast Cancer Risk in Hispanic Women

The novel tool will be integrated into the National Cancer Institute’s current risk assessment tool.

A novel model may be able to accurately predict breast cancer risk among Hispanic women, which could help improve breast cancer care.

This model is the first to be based on data from Hispanic patients, and will be integrated into the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) online tool, which helps physicians assess breast cancer risk, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Hispanics are the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the US, so it’s important that the NCI tool include information from these women in determining their risk score,” said lead author Matthew P. Banegas, PhD, MPH. “Our model does that because it is based on data from Hispanic women and specifically tailored for them.”

The NCI’s risk assessment tool requires providers to enter factors regarding the patient’s age, race, and family breast cancer history. Other factors include when the patient started menstruating, how old she was when she first gave birth, or if she has had a breast biopsy for benign disease.

However, this tool is only applicable to non-Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Pacific Islander women. This leaves Hispanic women without an accurate risk assessment, and could cause an inaccurate view of disease risk. Previous studies have also shown that using the current tools underestimates the risk of developing breast cancer in Hispanic women.

“Prior studies have shown that Hispanic women born in the US have a higher breast cancer risk than Hispanic women who emigrate here from other countries,” Dr Banegas said. “Our model includes data from US and foreign-born women, so providers will be able to more accurately predict risk based on where the woman was born.”

To create the data, the investigators included data from the San Francisco Bay Area Breast Cancer Study, which included 1086 Hispanic women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1995 and 2002, and 1411 women in the control group.

Approximately 1000 women were born in the United States, and 1500 were born elsewhere, according to the study.

Data regarding cancer incidence and mortality rates were gathered from the California Cancer Registry and the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program from the NCI. The researchers validated this model through the use of data from the Women’s Health Initiative and the Four-Corners Breast Cancer Study.

The investigators found that the novel model was able to accurately predict breast cancer among US-born Hispanic women from the Women’s Health Initiative, but only slightly overestimated the incidence in foreign-born Hispanic women, according to the study.

However, the researchers warn that certain women should not use this tool. Like the current risk assessment tool, women who already have invasive breast cancer, have an inherited genetic mutation known to cause breast cancer, or who have received radiation therapy for another cancer should not be assessed by this tool, according to the study.

“We built the model using data from Hispanic women in California who are mostly of Mexican and Central American descent, so these are the women for whom the model will be most accurate,” Dr Banegas concluded. “As we collect more data on Hispanic women from other regions and countries, we will be able to further refine the model.”