UAB researchers work to find treatment for aggressive form of breast cancer



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The National Institute of Health just launched the largest-ever breast cancer genetics in black women study. Recently, dozens of other studies revealed that black women are more likely to be die of their disease and are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive forms of breast cancer, like triple-negative breast cancer.

Eva Carter was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer three years ago. Hearing the ‘c’ word, cancer, was already devastating, but finding out she was diagnosed with super aggressive form of breast cancer was difficult to wrap her mind around.

Carter says her oncologist at UAB, Dr. Andres Forero, gave her one piece of advice that she says stuck with her. She stayed away from Google and didn’t read about the negative information associated her specific type of cancer.

She instead, participated in a clinical trial at UAB to find a treatment that worked for her.

Dr. Forero says about 40% of women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, most often black women, don’t respond to typical chemotherapy.

“A very good number of patients can be cured with standard chemotherapy, but there’s still a group of patients that cannot in which we need to find better drugs and the only way to find better drugs is to do clinical trials,” said Forero.

Dr. Forero says it’s important to point out that no clinical trial is the same as the other, trials are catered to each patient.

Carter says participating in a clinical trial at UAB saved her life and ignored the common misperceptions about clinical trials.

“I just could not believe, one, that I had been so ignorant of it and the impact that it would have not only on me but on my daughters and my granddaughters so for me this was again devastating,” Carter said.

Carter now spends a lot of her time volunteering at the hospital helping other cancer patients and trying to spread awareness about triple-negative breast cancer.

Carter also credits the New Light Support Group with helping her through the process. New Light is funded by the Susan G. Komen North Central Alabama Affiliate and provides families with understanding about triple negative breast cancer treatment and care.

According to hospital officials, the New Light Support Group is one of the fastest growing in the state for triple-negative breast cancer patients.

Patients need a place to feel supported, patient advocate Kimberly Robinson is a New Light organizer.

“When they’re told that they have a diagnosis of triple-negative it just intensifies their anxiety being diagnosed with breast cancer is already overwhelming but to have a title like triple-negative it makes it even much more,” said Robinson.

Click here for more information about the New Light Support Group.

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