Ann Hoffman

RhoC GTPase and p38γ Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Expression as Predictors of DCIS Progression to Invasive Breast Cancer: A Comparison of African American and Caucasian American Patients

Ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast (DCIS) is a key intermediate step in the progression from normal breast tissue to invasive ductal carcinoma. It represents nearly 20 percent of all breast cancers currently detected by screening in North America, making DCIS the fastest-growing breast cancer family in the U.S. A better understanding of the progression to invasive cancer would be especially beneficial for African American (AA) populations. AA women are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age, to present clinically at later stages, and to experience higher mortality from breast carcinoma than other groups. Because DCIS represents a crucial intermediate step toward invasive cancer in which many key molecular changes have already occurred, studying DCIS may provide valuable insight into the progression of breast cancer from a noninvasive to an invasive phenotype. This studys goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of these differences in breast cancer risk and outcome while developing a prognostic tool to identify DCIS lesions most at risk of progressing to an invasive carcinoma phenotype. Special double fluorescent staining techniques have been developed and implemented to identify protein expression levels of RhoC GTPase and p38γ MAPK, both factors known to be essential for the development of metastatic carcinoma. Specific aims are: 1) understand expression patterns of RhoC and p38γ MAPK in the progression of DCIS to invasive breast cancer; 2) compare and contrast expression patterns of RhoC and p38γ MAPK in African American and Caucasian patients; 3) attempt to correlate the molecular expression patterns with follow-up data on patient outcomes; 4) explore whether it is possible to identify the most successful treatment strategies for various types of DCIS lesions with specific expression profiles. Ultimately this model may enable physicians to more confidently choose more aggressive treatment options for DCIS (and other) lesions most likely to become aggressively invasive. Data analysis is ongoing with the aid of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Microscopy Image Analysis Laboratory.

About Ann
Ann Marie Hoffman graduated from the University of Michigan School of Public Health with a Masters Student in Toxicology in 2012. She completed an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science. Her diverse research interests include biomarkers of cancer risk and progression, development of online tools to assess lifetime breast cancer risk, and methods to hasten and streamline the developmental processes involved in translational genomics and personalized medicine.