Ohio State launches statewide study focused on breast cancer in Black women

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The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute has launched its fourth statewide cancer research initiative focused on increasing breast cancer education, facilitating access to genetic counseling and ensuring appropriate screening, follow-up for abnormalities and treatment for Black women who are at an increased risk for breast cancer.

The Turning the Page on Breast Cancer in Ohio program was launched with funding support from Pelotonia, the American Cancer Society and Pfizer and is a collaborative effort of experts from the OSUCCC – James, Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, Susan G. Komen and the North Central Region of the American Cancer Society.

Electra Paskett, co-leader of the OSUCCC – James Cancer Control Research Program, Marion N. Rowley Designated Chair in Cancer Research at the Ohio State College of Medicine, and Heather Hampel, a practicing genetic counselor with The James and professor/associate director of the Division of Human Genetics at the Ohio State College Medicine, are principal investigators of the study.

Hampel is also a member of the OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program.

Hampel is a practicing genetic counselor with The James and professor/associate director of the Division of Human Genetics at the Ohio State College Medicine. She also is a member of the OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program.

“Studies confirm that in the United States, Black women are 42% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women – and on average, Black women develop more aggressive breast cancer and die at younger ages than white women. Many factors, including insurance, socioeconomics and more frequent gene mutations, contribute to this disparity,” Paskett said in a statement.

“We are working to identify and directly break down those barriers to help women who are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer,” Paskett said. “Our goal is to help these women both understand their risk and get the medical guidance they need.”

The OSUCCC – James-led collaborative team will use a multi-level approach in 12 Ohio counties to provide breast cancer education and facilitate access to risk assessment, genetic counseling and testing, appropriate screening/surveillance, follow-up for abnormal tests, and prompt and appropriate treatment for Black women.

Researchers will use geographic predictors (county) of aggressive disease to identify and inform women who live in high-risk counties. Participating counties will include Franklin, Fairfield, Clark, Butler, Hamilton, Lake, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Trumbull, Summit, Stark and Mahoning.

Several strategies (e.g., Facebook ads, referral from providers or community organizations) will be used to direct interested women to a website where they can enter information about themselves and their family history of cancer to determine if they are at increased risk for breast cancer.

High-risk women will be referred to genetic counseling, where they can receive a tailored risk assessment and genetic testing when appropriate. Women will then receive a personal prescription for breast health and be connected to experts who can help them navigate next steps.

All participating women will receive information about when to start breast cancer screening and what that screening should entail based on their risk stratification. Women will then be connected to local breast health specialists for their screening and follow-up. Efforts will be made at local health centers to ensure that women seen in those medical clinics have up-to-date screening and that women with abnormal screening tests receive proper and timely follow-up.

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