Integrating imaging and multi-omics data to elucidate racial differences in breast tumor biology to optimize precision oncology approaches and patient outcome


Background: Racial disparities in breast cancer incidence and clinical outcome have been well characterized. In particular, African American (AA) patients have higher mortality rates than other racial groups. Research into these racial disparities has primarily focused on socioeconomic determinants, with some studies exploring potential molecular determinants and limited biological differences found between AA and Caucasian patient tumors. Tumor intrinsic and extrinsic factors that promote racial differences in breast cancer development and patient outcome are not fully understood and strategies to address this are scarce.  As a result, we have developed a platform that combines patient-specific imaging and multi-omics data to elucidate how biological differences integrate to promote racial disparities in tumor behavior and patient outcome.

Methods: Imaging and transcriptomic data from over 500 patients were integrated within the SimBioSys TumoScope biophysical modeling software to understand racial differences in tumor biology and coordinated tumor behavior.

Results: AA patients have tumors that display higher growth rates, characteristically have higher adipose tissue around the tumor, higher spatial variation in drug secretion, lower spatial variation in blood flow/ and increased tumor stiffness.

Conclusion: Using a transdisciplinary approach, our results show that metabolic and structural tumor features are associated with the disproportionately poor survival rates observed in AA breast cancer patients. By characterizing racial-specific tumor intrinsic and extrinsic biological factors and their potential interactions, strategies may emerge to personalize clinical management based on racial differences. In this way, precision oncology approaches can be applied to increase life-expectancy for racial minorities with breast cancer.

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