U-M Cancer Center doctor wins state honor

Date: 
06/22/2012 - 3:00pm

Dr. Lisa Newman named 'Michiganian of the Year'

Written by Nicole Fawcett

Ann Arbor - Lisa Newman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, was named one of the Detroit News' Michiganians of the Year.

In the June 21 edition of the paper, Newman was honored for her work in disparities related to an aggressive type of breast cancer called triple negative, which disproportionately affects African-American women. Triple-negative breast cancer is so called because the tumor is negative for three specific markers that are used to determine treatment. The most successful treatment advances in breast cancer have targeted these three markers. None of these therapies are effective in triple-negative breast cancer.

"A large part of the explanation for why African-American women (experience more) relapses and higher mortality rates from breast cancer is because these triple negative breast cancers are twice as common in African-American women compared to white-American women," Newman tells the Detroit News.

Among women with breast cancer, this subtype represents about 15 percent of diagnoses in white-American women, a quarter in African American women and more than half in African women.

Newman's research has taken her to Ghana, where she looks at tumors from African women with breast cancer. She has found that Ghanaian women get breast cancer at a younger age than American women, and have larger, more advanced tumors.

In addition to her research, Newman, professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School, treats patients with breast cancer and frequently speaks about breast cancer awareness, particularly in the African-American community.

Breast cancer statistics: 229,060 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 39,920 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

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