Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
Emory University School of Medicine
Co-Leader, Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
Conquer Cancer, The ASCO Foundation
Identifying genetic determinants of treatment-related comorbidities, poor treatment adherence, and worse survival among Black patients with early-stage breast cancer.
Non-Hispanic Black (NHB) women are two times more likely to die after a breast cancer diagnosis than non-Hispanic white (NHW) women in metropolitan Atlanta. Some of the largest racial inequalities in breast cancer outcomes are among patients with high socioeconomic status, private insurance, and early-stage, hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. Following treatment, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression are observed more frequently in NHB than NHW women and contribute to poor survival—which means they are classified as treatment-emergent comorbidities. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) are a composite of genetic variants within an individual’s DNA that, when grouped together, may indicate a level of risk for developing a disease. For her Conquer Cancer Research Professorship, Dr. Torres and her team of trainees will explore identifying a PRS scores of unique genetic variations associated with race that increase the risk of treatment-emergent comorbidities, and whether this relationship is a significant driver of disparities in early-stage breast cancer.
Dr. Torres and her team obtained IRB approval and are actively enrolling NHB and NHW patients with early-stage breast cancer to the study. They will be tracking the development of any comorbid conditions as well as asking patients to report on demographics, quality of care and life, socioeconomic status, symptoms and side effects, stress, treatment initiation and continuation, ability to manage their conditions, and many other factors.
Study participants will undergo blood testing to assess genetic differences that might be associated with treatment-related comorbidities. They will receive repeated assessments before, during, and after treatment to monitor their health. Identifying genetic predictors of treatment-related comorbidities will enable physicians to personalize care, support proactive preventative interventions, and select treatments that are more effective, less toxic, and improve overall survival.
Mylin Torres, MD is Professor of Radiation Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine where she leads the breast radiation oncology program and serves as Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention Control Research Program of Winship Cancer Institute. Dr. Torres graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and received her medical degree from Stanford University. She completed her training in radiation oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Torres and her team have developed an integrated program of multi-disciplinary research dedicated to understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying cancer therapy-related toxicities. She also conducts research on racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes and improving the quality of cancer care delivery. Dr. Torres’ program has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, Susan G. Komen, V Foundation, and Winship. Awards from the Pfizer ASPIRE, Pfizer Global Breast Cancer Research, and Genentech IIS programs fund Dr. Torres’ investigator-initiated multi-institutional clinical trials of radiation in combination with novel systemic agents in patients with metastatic breast cancer.
She has published over 70 manuscripts and book chapters. She is a graduate of the ASCO Leadership Development Program and has served on several ASCO and NRG Oncology Committees. Currently, Dr. Torres is Co-Chair of the Research Implementation Special Interest Group within the NRG Health Disparities Committee. Based on her successful mentorship of over 40 junior faculty, trainees, post-docs, and students, Dr. Torres received the 2018 Winship Annual Mentorship Award and serves as a primary mentor within NRG Oncology Health Equity New Investigator Program for Underrepresented Minorities and on the Executive Committee of Emory’s NIH-supported Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Program.
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