Scientists have developed a new, more accurate risk assessment model for breast cancer in African American women, a risk they said had been underestimated, in a new study out Wednesday.
The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, also widely known as the Gail model, has been used for years to determine breast cancer risk in all racial groups, and in the United States to determine eligibility for participation in clinical testing of cancer treatments and preventive care.
But much of the model is based on breast cancer data only from white women.
The new study, called the Women's Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences (CARE) study, was run to gather data on African American women with and without breast cancer.
Mitchell Gail of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, who developed the old model, and colleagues, "used data from the CARE study and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program to build a new model for estimating breast cancer risk in African American women," they said in a statement.
They used data from two trials, the Women's Health Initiative and the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR), to test the model, they said.
The new model found that 30 percent of African American women over 45 had an at least 1.66 percent chance of developing breast cancer over a five-year period, twice as high as in the Gail model (14.5 percent).
Still "the CARE model is not recommended for women with a previous history of breast cancer, and it may underestimate breast cancer risks in certain other women," the doctors warned in their statement.