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American Association for Cancer Research Nov. 27-30 2007

American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved

The inaugural American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved took place Nov. 27-30 in Atlanta and attracted about 28,000 attendees from around the world. The meeting brought together a wide range of researchers from disciplines such as genetics, biology, and social and environmental sciences.

"What's unique and groundbreaking about this conference is that we've begun to incorporate a more complete spectrum of research areas and disciplines into the study of health disparities," said Timothy Rebbeck, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, a co-chair of the program committee.

Some of the most fascinating research, Rebbeck said, has come out of the University of Chicago, where researchers such as Sarah Gehlert, Ph.D., and Suzanne Conzen, M.D., are conducting parallel studies of animals and humans to show how stress and social isolation contribute to an increased incidence of breast cancer and an increased aggressiveness of breast tumors. "The animal studies help us understand the mechanisms and etiology of stress, and the human studies show us how stress affects real people," Rebbeck said. "It places biology and society in a big picture."

One of the most well-attended plenary sessions addressed disparities in cancer treatment, said John Carpten, Ph.D., of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. Hosted by Alex A. Adjei, M.D., Ph.D., of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., it included talks about "Somatic cancer mutations across populations," "Race, ethnicity, and response to anticancer agents," "Racial and ethnic disparities in cancer treatment," and "Racial variations in pharmacogenetics that impact treatment outcomes."

"To me, pharmacogenetics is one of the most exciting areas," Carpten said. "We know there are genetic polymorphisms in the cytochrome p450 family that are highly associated with drug metabolism. The frequency of those variations varies across different populations and can have significant differences in how people might metabolize drugs."

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., leader of the Human Genome Project and director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, delivered the keynote lecture on the intersection between genetics and biology.

"It was an outstanding address," Carpten said. "We've just recently been armed with necessary tools such as the human genome sequence and the catalogue of somatic mutations in human cancers. Now we can start looking at the frequency of different genetic polymorphisms and different mutations across different ethnic groups and how those mutations might be associated with clinical outcomes such as survival, tumor aggressiveness and response to chemotherapy. The strong emphasis on genetics and genomics is what made this a landmark, outside-of-the-box meeting in health disparities."

AACR: Racial Disparities Observed in Breast Cancer

FRIDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Black women with breast cancer are more likely to have poorer outcomes, differences in gene expression profiles, and lower rates of lymph node assessment than their non-black counterparts, according to three studies presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held this week in Atlanta.

Abstract #A-45
Abstract #B-93
Abstract #A-65

AACR: Disparity Seen in Prostate Cancer Markers

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- In men with prostate cancer, two structural proteins involved in the relationship between hormones and prostate cancer progression are over-produced in the tumors of blacks, suggesting that there may be a genetic basis for the increased prostate cancer incidence and mortality in black men, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held this week in Atlanta.

Abstract B-99

AACR: Poor Black Women May Face Higher Cancer Risk

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Inner-city black women who live in public housing are highly unlikely to consume an ideal cancer-preventing diet, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held this week in Atlanta.

Abstract #A9

AACR: Genetics May Explain Colorectal Cancer Disparities

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Homozygosity for the variant T copy of the 5 10-methelenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which regulates blood levels of folate, may help protect against the development of colorectal cancer in some populations but not in others, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held this week in Atlanta.

Abstract #A14

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