Racial disparity and triple-negative breast cancer in African-American women: A multifaceted affair between obesity, biology, and socioeconomic determinants

Sumit Siddharth, Dipali Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a molecularly heterogeneous disease whose incidence is disproportionately higher in African American (AA) women compared to European American (EA) women. Earlier onset, more advanced stage at diagnosis, and aggressive tumor phenotype are some of the characteristic features of TNBC in women with African ethnicity in comparison to EA women, denoting one of the most significant examples of racial disparity in oncology. It is still contentious whether health disparities result in aggressive behavior of TNBC in AA women or it is indeed a molecularly distinct disease. Given the “gaps-in-knowledge” surrounding racial disparity in TNBC, this review discusses various socioeconomic factors and the genetic predispositions contributing to poor prognosis of TNBC in AA women. While socioeconomic factors may contribute to poorer survival, multiple preclinical and clinical studies suggest inherent genetic risk factors and aberrant activation of oncogenic pathways in AA TNBC. Additionally, AA women are more likely to be obese and obesity is known to drive a molecular circuitry resulting in aggressive tumor progression indicating a potential obesity-TNBC axis at work in AA women. Given the multifactorial nature of AA TNBC, a transdisciplinary approach may help bridge the disparity that exists between AA and EA TNBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number514
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018



  • African-american
  • Obesity
  • Racial disparity
  • Risk factors
  • Triple negative breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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