Differences in biological features of breast cancer between Caucasian (Italian) and African (Tanzanian) populations

D. Amadori, P. Serra, S. Bravaccini, A. Farolfi, M. Puccetti, E. Carretta, L. Medri, O. Nanni, M. M. Tumedei, J. Kahima, N. Masalu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Information on hormone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) expression in breast cancer is acknowledged as mandatory for prognostic stratification and treatment planning. Data on the biological features of African breast cancers are poor. We decided to compare histopathological and biomolecular characteristics (estrogen and progesterone receptor - ER, PgR, and HER2) of Tanzanian and Italian breast cancers. Differences in proliferating index and androgen receptor (AR) expression in triple-negative patients from the two case series were also assessed. Of the 103 consecutive patients seen at the Bugando Medical Center (Mwanza, Tanzania) from 2003 to 2010, who underwent biopsy or surgical resection of primary breast cancer, 69 patients had tissue samples that were evaluable for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), and HER2. Histopathological assessment and biomolecular determinations were performed at the Cancer Institute of Romagna (IRST IRCCS, Meldola, Italy). Caucasian breast cancers were randomly extracted from an electronic database and matched (1:2 ratio) for year of diagnosis and age at diagnosis. Median age of both populations was 51 years (range 27-84). With respect to Caucasian tumors, Tanzanian breast cancers at diagnosis more frequently showed high histological grade (mainly grade 3) (P = 0.03), advanced clinical stage (III or IV) (P <0.001), ER negativity (52.2 %, P <0.001) and high proliferation (P = 0.0002). Triple-negative tumors were over-represented in Tanzanian women. AR was positive in 38.5 and 38 % of triple-negative Tanzanian and Italian breast cancers, respectively. Our results show that histopathological and biomolecular characteristics in Tanzanian and Italian breast cancers differ substantially. The high frequency of poorly differentiated, ER-negative, highly proliferating tumors, together with advanced stage at presentation, could be considered as the main prognostic factors linked to the high mortality rates for breast cancer in the African population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-183
Number of pages7
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Biological features
  • Breast cancer
  • Caucasian population
  • Tanzanian population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Medicine(all)


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