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Breast Cancer in Asian Women in Asia vs Asian American Women in US

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2019  highlights the difference in breast cancer among Asian versus Asian American women. The paper explains that Asian women in Asia experience a peak in breast cancer between the ages of 45 to 49, whereas non-Hispanic white women have the highest incidences between the age group 75 to 79. Asian American women’s incidence of breast cancer  falls in between that of  Asians and white woman,  where the peak of breast cancer occurs in the  age 60 decade. In terms of markers, such as estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2):  Asian women  display unique characteristics: In cases of younger onset, higher rate of  ER+, but lower incidence of Triple negative breast cancer and Grade 3 breast cancer vs, in cases of older onset, there is a  higher rate of HER2+.  There is a higher proportion of HER2+ tumors among Asians and Asian-Americans versus whites in the US. In longitudinal studies from Taiwan, Asian females from Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have higher incidence of breast cancer than White females in the US.  Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans and Korean Americans living in the US, have incidences of breast cancer between the Asians in Asia and the Whites in the US.  It is unclear if dietary changes are an explanation. The study suggests additional study of genetic and molecular markers  will further help elucidate the differences among the subgroups of Asians in Asian and Asian Americans in US in terms of breast cancer incidence.

By Harsha Pathanjaly, Dwight Lubrin, and Dr. Gloria Wu

Gomez SL, Yao S, Kushi LH, Kurian AW. Is Breast Cancer in Asian and Asian American Women a Different Disease? JNatl Cancer Inst. 2019 Dec 1;111(12): 1243-1244. Doi:10.1093/jnci/djz091, accessed 22 August 2020.

About Gloria Wu

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