Background: Breast cancer in young patients is often associated with a poorer prognosis, but there has been a paucity of published data in an Asian population.
Methods: One hundred and six patients (12.6%) under the age of 40 years with breast cancer (group V) were compared with 737 patients with breast cancer aged 40 years or more (group W). Demographics, presentations, pathological profiles, treatment and survival measures were analysed.
Results: Median tumour size was similar in both groups. Group V had more patients with grade 3 tumours and nodal involvement compared to group W (51.5% vs 38.1%, P = 0.012 and 52.5% vs 41.8%, P = 0.045). The mean Nottingham prognostic index (NPI) score was significantly higher in group V compared to group W (4.75 vs 4.26, P < 0.001). The incidences of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in group V were higher than group W (69.2% vs 35.2%, P < 0.001 and 41.1% vs 24.4%, P = 0.002). There were no differences in overall survival and disease-free survival (local recurrence).
Conclusion: Patients below 40 years with breast cancer have tumours with a poorer prognostic profile. However, this did not translate into a poorer overall survival, and this might be attributable to more aggressive adjuvant treatment of younger patients.