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International Journal of Breast Cancer
Volume 2016, Article ID 4792865, 4 pages
Review Article

Breast Cancer in Africa: Limitations and Opportunities for Application of Genomic Medicine

1Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2Harvard Medical School, Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, Boston, MA 02115, USA
3University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA
4Rwanda Military Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda

Received 16 April 2016; Accepted 30 May 2016

Academic Editor: Lei Shi

Copyright © 2016 Allison Silverstein et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


As genomic medicine gains clinical applicability across a spectrum of diseases, insufficient application in low-income settings stands to increase health disparity. Breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment have benefited greatly from genomic medicine in high-income settings. As breast cancer is a leading cause of both cancer incidence and mortality in Africa, attention and resources must be applied to research and clinical initiatives to integrate genomic medicine into breast cancer care. In terms of research, there is a paucity of investigations into genetic determinants of breast cancer specific to African populations, despite consensus in the literature that predisposition and susceptibility genes vary between populations. Therefore, we need targeted strengthening of existing research efforts and support of new initiatives. Results will improve clinical care through screening and diagnosis with genetic testing specific to breast cancer in African populations. Clinically, genomic medicine can provide information capable of improving resource allocation to the population which most stands to benefit from increased screening or tailored treatment modalities. In situations where mammography or chemotherapy options are limited, this information will allow for the greatest impact. Implementation of genomic medicine will face numerous systemic barriers but is essential to improve breast cancer outcomes and survival.