Paulina Blackinton

An Exploratory Study of Male Breast Cancer Frequency and Etiology in Egypt, Morocco, & Uganda" and "An Exploratory Study of Inflammatory Breast Cancer in Kampala, Uganda

Paulina worked on two projects in Kampala, Uganda: An Exploratory Study of Male Breast Cancer Frequency and Etiology in Egypt, Morocco, & Uganda, in collaboration with CEESP students in Egypt and Morocco, and an Exploratory Study of Inflammatory Breast Cancer in Kampala, Uganda. Both projects were based from the Kampala Cancer Registry, a population-based registry that collects information on all cancers diagnosed in Kyadondo County, Uganda. Breast cancer in males is rare in developed countries but is suggested to be more common in Africa; however, the incidence rate of male breast cancer has not yet been calculated in Uganda. Likewise, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive type of breast cancer; a higher frequency of IBC has been documented in North Africa (Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco) but little is known about the incidence of IBC among sub-Saharan populations.  Kampala's population-based registry is a unique resource to enable calculations of incidence, which facilitates comparisons with other populations.

Both projects involve similar methods: identifying cases, locating medical records and abstracting relevant information, and finding tumor tissues (from biopsies or surgical resections) for as many cases as possible to bring back to the US for analysis.  For male breast cancer cases, and possibly for inflammatory breast cancer cases, attempts will be made to contact the patients for an interview to fill in information missing from the medical record. These interviews were conducted during home visits with the assistance of an employee of the cancer registry. Back in Ann Arbor, the male breast cancer tumor tissues was analyzed for BRCA2 and CAG polymorphisms as well as estrogen receptor status, if not previously available. IBC tumor tissues will be analyzed for RhoC and e-cadherin overexpression.

The learning objectives for these projects are to gain experience working in international health; specifically, to learn how to achieve objectives in a new cultural and political environment in a limited time frame. With two projects, each with multiple methods of data collection, it was critical to manage my time effectively and productively.

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