Evaluating Polygenic Risk Scores for Breast Cancer in Women of African Ancestry

GBHS Study Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) have been demonstrated to identify women of European, Asian, and Latino ancestry at elevated risk of developing breast cancer (BC). We evaluated the performance of existing PRSs trained in European ancestry populations among women of African ancestry. METHODS: We assembled genotype data for women of African ancestry, including 9241 case subjects and 10 193 control subjects. We evaluated associations of 179- and 313-variant PRSs with overall and subtype-specific BC risk. PRS discriminatory accuracy was assessed using area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. We also evaluated a recalibrated PRS, replacing the index variant with variants in each region that better captured risk in women of African ancestry and estimated lifetime absolute risk of BC in African Americans by PRS category. RESULTS: For overall BC, the odds ratio per SD of the 313-variant PRS (PRS313) was 1.27 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.23 to 1.31), with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.571 (95% CI = 0.562 to 0.579). Compared with women with average risk (40th-60th PRS percentile), women in the top decile of PRS313 had a 1.54-fold increased risk (95% CI = 1.38-fold to 1.72-fold). By age 85 years, the absolute risk of overall BC was 19.6% for African American women in the top 1% of PRS313 and 6.7% for those in the lowest 1%. The recalibrated PRS did not improve BC risk prediction. CONCLUSION: The PRSs stratify BC risk in women of African ancestry, with attenuated performance compared with that reported in European, Asian, and Latina populations. Future work is needed to improve BC risk stratification for women of African ancestry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1176
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 4 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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