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Molecular characteristics and prognostic features of breast cancer in Nigerian compared with UK women


Although breast cancer (BC) incidence is lower in African–American women compared with White-American, in African countries such as Nigeria, BC is a common disease. Nigerian women have a higher risk for early-onset, with a high mortality rate from BC, prompting speculation that risk factors could be genetic and the molecular portrait of these tumours are different to those of western women. In this study, 308 BC samples from Nigerian women with complete clinical history and tumour characteristics were included and compared with a large series of BC from the UK as a control group. Immunoprofile of these tumours was characterised using a panel of 11 biomarkers of known relevance to BC. The immunoprofile and patients’ outcome were compared with tumour grade-matched UK control group. Nigerian women presenting with BC were more frequently premenopausal, and their tumours were characterised by large primary tumour size, high tumour grade, advanced lymph node stage, and a higher rate of vascular invasion compared with UK women. In the grade-matched groups, Nigerian BC showed over representation of triple–negative and basal phenotypes and BRCA1 deficiency BC compared with UK women, but no difference was found regarding HER2 expression between the two series. Nigerian women showed significantly poorer outcome after development of BC compared with UK women. This study demonstrates that there are possible genetic and molecular differences between an indigenous Black population and a UK-based series. The basal-like, triple negative and BRCA1 dysfunction groups of tumours identified in this study may have implications in the development of screening programs and therapies for African patients and families that are likely to have a BRCA1 dysfunction, basal like and triple negative.

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Agboola, A.J., Musa, A.A., Wanangwa, N. et al. Molecular characteristics and prognostic features of breast cancer in Nigerian compared with UK women. Breast Cancer Res Treat 135, 555–569 (2012).

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  • Breast cancer
  • African women
  • Biomarker
  • Basal phenotype and grade-matched