Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Common in Africa

Analysis of molecular subtypes may help explain poor prognosis of African women
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In West African women, triple hormone receptor-negative breast cancer is over-represented, according to a study published online Aug. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dezheng Huo, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues studied two patient cohorts in Nigeria and Senegal who were diagnosed between 1996 and 2007.

In the first cohort of 378 patients, the researchers found estrogen receptor-positive, progesterone receptor-positive, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive tumors accounted for 24, 20, and 17 percent of tumors, respectively. They also found a predominance of triple negativity for these markers, and that the majority of tumors were basal-like (27 percent) or unclassified (28 percent) subtypes. In the second cohort of 129 patients, they observed similar findings.

"These findings partly explain the poor prognosis of breast cancer in African women and have important clinical and policy implications for breast cancer control in Africa," the authors conclude. "Mammographic screening may not work and low resource treatments such as oophorectomy or tamoxifen may be ineffective without knowledge of the patient's hormone receptor status. It underscores the urgent need for research into the etiology and pathogenesis of the aggressive molecular subtypes that disproportionately affect young women of African ancestry. Only then can we begin to close the gaps in the global disparities in breast cancer outcomes across populations."

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