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American Indian, Breast Cancer, Epidemiology, Risk Factors, Health Disparities


Objective: Very little is known about the breast cancer risk profile among American Indian women. Previous research shows that the proportion of American Indian/Alaska Native women with baseline characteristics (commonly known breast cancer risk factors) differs from other ethnicities. This retrospective case control study was designed to the explore the association of these factors among American Indian women with and without breast cancer.

Methods: Cases and controls were retrospectively selected from the medical records of American Indian women who obtained their health care from Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility (IHS) in Belcourt, ND. For each woman with breast cancer (n=141), two controls were selected when possible (n=278). Risk factors examined included woman’s age, age at first live birth, age of menarche, the number of previous benign breast biopsies, the total number of first-degree relatives with breast cancer, body mass index and parity. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using logistic regression.

Results: Many of the associations found among American Indian women who obtained their health care from Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility (IHS) in Belcourt, ND, between risk factors commonly identified in other populations and breast cancer were weakly positive. Nulliparity was the only risk factor to consistently show a positive significant association (OR = 2.87, 95% CI 1.16-.7.12).

Conclusion: Disparities in breast cancer incidence, mortality and screening among Northern Plains American Indian emphasize the need to better understand the risk factors associated with breast cancer in this population. Based on the results of this study, the value of current risk prediction models in American Indian communities is uncertain and clinicians should be cautious in using these models to inform American Indian patients of their risk for breast cancer.




originally published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.