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Week of January 11, 2010

MLK: Surgical oncologist to address disparities in breast cancer risk

Dr. Lisa Newman will deliver the MLK Symposium Health Sciences Lecture “Breast Cancer Awareness, Treatment and Transformative Health: A Catalyst for Change” at 11:45 a.m. Jan. 18 in the Dow Auditorium, Towsley Center, 1515 E. Medical Drive.

Newman’s research relating to disparities in breast cancer risk and outcome was recently featured on CNN’s documentary, “Black in America 2.”

Newman, a surgical oncologist and director of the Breast Care Center, focuses her research on breast cancer disparities. African-American breast cancer patients face a worse prognosis compared to other women, in part because they are more likely to be diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of the disease, the triple-negative subtype. Triple negative tumors lack expression of three important markers (estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and Her2/neu) that determine eligibility for specialized breast cancer treatment.

“This type of breast cancer is associated with poorer overall patient prognosis because we have fewer treatment options available for its management,” Newman says. According to Cancer Research UK, approximately 15 percent of all breast cancers are triple-negative. While black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at lower rates than white women, they are twice as likely to develop triple-negative tumors.

Newman’s research is dedicated to the study of triple negative breast cancer. She regularly travels to Ghana (where 60 percent of the breast cancers are triple negative) to collect genetic evidence it is hoped will lead to improved treatments.

At the MLK Symposium, she will discuss preliminary findings from an ongoing international collaboration between U-M and the Komfo Anoyke Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. This research partnership involves the study of breast disease patterns and genotype markers in western, sub-Saharan Africans compared with those of African Americans and white Americans.

Newman obtained her undergraduate education and her master’s degree in public health from Harvard University; she attended medical school and completed her general surgery residency training at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn. She completed her fellowship in surgical oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.



Anna Ercoli Schnitzer, on her greatest passion: “Working to improve the physical and virtual accessibility to all of our community, regardless of individual physical or mental challenges.”


  • Arts & Bodies, Dec. 18-Jan. 15, 2010, Work•Detroit, 3663 Woodward Ave, Detroit
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