Though Hispanic women typically have lower rates of breast cancer diagnosis compared to non-Hispanic white women, when it comes to triple-negative breast cancer, the situations are reversed.
Not only are Hispanic women the most likely to receive a triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis, they are more likely than non-Hispanic white women to be diagnosed at an earlier age–but more advanced stage–of the disease.
Now, research suggests Mexican women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are more than twice as likely to present with triple-negative breast cancer.
The data, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved in San Antonio, revealed 13.1 percent of Mexican, triple-negative breast cancer patients had a first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer, and 24.1 percent had a first- or second-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer.
About one in seven (14.9 percent) women in the cohort reported they had a first-degree relative diagnosed with either breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
“Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the worst breast cancer subtypes in terms of outcomes, Maria Elena Martinez, PhD, said in a press release. Our finding that family history is related to breast cancer subtype for Hispanic women of Mexican descent has tremendous implications for breast cancer treatment, screening and prevention among this population. It not only affects decisions around treatment plans for patients, but extends to screening and prevention plans for family members.
This is not the first additional risk factor research has uncovered for Mexican women and triple-negative breast cancer. In 2013, a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, revealed out of more than 1,000 Mexican and Mexican American breast cancer patients, Mexican women who breastfeed and have more children were at an increased risk for this form of aggressive breast cancer.
“We found that breast-feeding in women of Mexican descent is associated with triple-negative breast cancer, said study author Maria Elena Martinez, a cancer researcher at the University of California, San Diego, at the time. This was quite surprising. No other study has seen this correlation before. Most studies show health benefits of breastfeeding.
Triple-negative breast cancer is particularly aggressive and difficult to treat; because of its triple-negative status, tumors generally do not respond to receptor targeted treatments commonly used for breast cancer therapy, and triple negative breast cancer is more likely to recur than other subtypes of breast cancer.