Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology
Conquer Cancer, The ASCO Foundation
Expanding our understanding of the association between race, genetics, and breast cancer survival.
Despite a steady improvement in breast cancer survival rates over the past several decades, Black women are 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer compared to white women. The factors which contribute to disparities among racial groups is complex and likely has to do with a variety of circumstances, including tumor biology, genetics, access to healthcare, and other social determinants of health. Still today, however, we do not fully understand how genetics influence racial disparities and the survival of women with breast cancer. This is due, in part, to a significant under-representation of Black women in breast cancer research studies. Dr. Sonya Reid’s Conquer Cancer Career Development Award study supported by BCRF will gather breast tumor samples and medical records from Black and non-Hispanic white women, and analyze how different clinical and genetic features affect breast cancer recurrence and survival across different racial groups.
The project has gathered clinical information, including age at diagnosis, body mass index, breast cancer subtype and stage of tumor at diagnosis, and sequencing data from approximately 100 participants. A preliminary analysis of that information highlighted an overrepresentation of BRCA1 mutations in Black women with hereditary breast cancer and women with hereditary mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 had higher prevalence of TP53 mutations, a gene that is mutated in 30 percent of all breast cancers.
A comprehensive analysis of the tumor sequencing data and the clinical features will be completed once the team reaches their goal of sequencing tumors from 200 women. Dr. Reid and her team will assess if there are any connections between race, inherited breast cancer genes, and clinicopathological features (e.g., age at diagnosis, tumor subtype, stage at diagnosis), and if any of these differences are associated with rates of breast cancer recurrence and survival. They will also explore if mutations in tumors (those that are not inherited but occur during tumor development) contribute to disparities in breast cancer outcomes across racial groups, including response to different chemotherapies.
Sonya Reid, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center). Her research primarily focuses on health disparities in breast cancer, young-onset breast cancer, and hereditary breast cancer. Specifically, she is investigating genomic differences that may be contributing to the racial survival disparity in breast cancer. Dr. Reid is also focused on improving health care delivery to underserved communities and increasing the representation of minority patients in clinical trials. She is also actively involved in breast cancer research in Jamaica and recently completed a Master of Public Health degree from Vanderbilt University with a focus on Global health. Dr. Reid received the Martin Luther King Jr. award in recognition of her work in diversity, inclusion, and equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Clinically, she focuses on caring for breast cancer patients with a special interest in high-risk patients.
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