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Kirsten Nyrop, PhD, UNC Lineberger member and assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the UNC School of Medicine, has received a $50,000 award from the Integrated Approach to Breast Health Equity Competitive Grant Program, a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and Pfizer.

Kirsten Nyrop, PhD
Kirsten Nyrop, PhD, is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology/Oncology.

Nyrop will lead a one-year qualitative research study on how clinicians can discuss weight management with breast cancer survivors in an effort to decrease racial disparities in obesity-related comorbidities that can affect survivorship. Her co-investigators are Hyman B. Muss, MD, UNC Lineberger member and Mary Jones Hudson Distinguished Professor of Geriatric Oncology, and UNC Lineberger’s Marjory Charlot, MD, MPH, MSc, assistant professor of medicine.

The study is funded by a $50,000 grant offered through the Integrated Approach to Breast Health Equity Competitive Grant Program, which is funded by Pfizer Global Medical Grants and overseen by the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS and Pfizer collaboration is a three-year effort to promote equitable outcomes for all women living with breast cancer. Nyrop and the UNC team were one of nine recipients to receive this first round of grants from the program.

“We know that obesity, along with age, is a significant risk factor for hormone receptor (HR) positive breast cancer,” said Nyrop. “In our UNC breast cancer clinic, we have found that as many as 68 percent of black women with early breast cancer have obesity compared to 34 percent of white women. Ultimately, we want to develop an intervention that clinicians can use with patients to discuss avoiding weight gain in survivorship.”

Nyrop and her team will develop an intervention focused on patient-centered, culturally appropriate conversations by first asking focus groups of breast cancer survivors what would be helpful for them to discuss with their clinician. Nyrop will then take that information to a sample of clinicians for their input on what they believe would be feasible in clinical practice. Based on the responses from both groups of stakeholders, Nyrop’s team will create a set of guidelines in the form of a flier that can be distributed by the American Cancer Society and Pfizer.

“There are so many things that patients have no control over when battling breast cancer,” Nyrop said. “This is something they can take control of. Managing their weight is something patients can do for themselves to reduce the impact of obesity-related comorbidities that may impact their prognosis and survival, and increase the overall quality of their life.”

This qualitative research study will be conducted in the 2020 calendar year. Nyrop then plans to apply for other grants to test the intervention developed through this project in a clinic-based intervention study.

—Carleigh Gabryel, UNC Health Care