Grants - V Scholar Grants - Georgia - 2017

Lauren McCullough, Ph.D.

Funded by Hooters of America, LLC

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among US women. The discovery and treatment of breast cancers has improved, but survival differences continue. African-American women have greater deaths across all types of breast cancer. While many social, economic, lifestyle, and biologic factors contribute to survival differences, we believe that fat and its impact on the cancer environment is an important factor. More African-American women are obese than Whites, and obesity has been linked to increased odds of breast cancer occurring again, spreading to other locations, and death. In older women (>50 years), most of the hormones that drive breast cancer are from total body fat. But, certain changes specific to breast fat may influence breast cancer. Early data show that one of these changes may be the development of crown-like structures (CLS). CLS of the breast (CLS-B) has been linked to greater inflammation, hormones, and poor survival among White women. We believe that CLS-B are more common in African-American than White women across body size, and that they are related to worse survival leading to the observed differences by race. This award would support the first study of obesity, CLS-B presence, and related outcomes in group of African-American and similar White women being treated for breast cancer (400 women total). Our study will advance the understanding of obesity and the breast cancer environment, as well as explain the value of CLS-B as a predictor of treatment response, breast cancer outcomes, and possible driver of differences among African-American women.