She wants to know why Black women are more likely to develop heart disease after breast cancer
RICHMOND, Va. — Studying cardiovascular disease in breast cancer survivors isn’t new at VCU Health, but one study is taking it a step further.
“To understand why we see racial disparities. Why we see cardiovascular disease among breast cancer survivors,” said Arnethea Sutton, Ph.D. with VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Dr. Sutton, a researcher is three years into a five-year study funded by the National Cancer Institute which looks at those disparities specifically among Black women.
“We know at this point that Black women are three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease after the breast cancer diagnosis, but we really don’t understand why,” Dr. Sutton said.
Dr. Sutton said there could be several contributing factors that may go beyond diet and exercise.
“Say that all of these individuals receive this type of therapy and still you see a disparity in cardiovascular disease and that leads one to believe there has to be other things that are happening after or during treatment that’s contributing to why we see the differences,” Dr. Sutton said.
So far from the study, Sutton said they are seeing a difference in how the cardiovascular risk is communicated to different women.
“Now we see older women with breast cancer are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than of breast cancer. It’s very important we start to communicate that risk a little bit better,” Dr. Sutton said.
Sutton’s study is looking at hypertension and blood pressure among 150 women.
They’re still looking for more participants, especially Black women who have survived breast cancer and received chemotherapy.
“Or Trastuzumab which is prescribed to women who have HER2 positive breast cancer because it’s also known to be cardiotoxic,” Dr. Sutton said.
Once the study is complete, interventions will be put in place to address the disparities.