The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has announced Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, MPH, as the recipient of the 2021 AACR Distinguished Lectureship on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities. Dr. Colditz presented his award lecture, “Making Progress, Together: An Inclusive, Broad-Based Approach to Reducing Excess Burden of Breast Cancer Among African American Women in St. Louis—With Lessons for National Implementation,” during the opening session of the virtual 14th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.
This AACR lectureship recognizes an investigator whose novel and significant work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer health disparities.
Dr. Colditz is the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, Professor of Medicine, and Associate Director of Prevention and Control for the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and Deputy Director for the Institute for Public Health at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis. He is also Chief of the Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. As an internationally recognized leader in cancer prevention and epidemiology, he is being honored for his contributions to translating epidemiologic studies to reduce cancer health disparities. He is also being recognized for facilitating significant reductions in late-stage breast cancer diagnoses in Black women by pursuing the identification of genetic drivers that contribute to aggressive breast cancer subtypes in this population.
Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, MPH
Addressing Disparities in Cancer Detection
Dr. Colditz currently leads the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, which, under his leadership, has become a national model of community engagement and institutional change to address ongoing health disparities. Historically, Black women in St. Louis were more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer compared with White women. Through outreach, education, screening support, and the monitoring of underrepresented minority enrollment in clinical trials, the program has resulted in the significant reduction of late-stage breast cancer diagnoses among Black women in St. Louis, from more than 30% in 1999 to 14% today. This rate is similar to the percentage of late-stage diagnoses among White women in St. Louis. Dr. Colditz has since expanded this program to other underserved areas while adapting the breast cancer program to address other cancer types.
In addition, Dr. Colditz has led numerous scientific investigations to understand the underlying basis for increased breast cancer risk in young Black women. His research has found that, compared with White women, Black women are at an increased risk of developing hormone receptor–negative and other aggressive subtypes of breast cancer following initial detection of benign lesions. He has also reported that although treatment approaches to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are equally accessed by Black and White patients in Missouri, Black women present with significantly higher rates of invasive breast cancer in the 10 years following a DCIS diagnosis.