Background: Several studies have suggested that breast cancer in black women is associated with aggressive features and poor survival. This study examines molecular markers along with clinical stage and pathological grade in breast cancer material from Jos, Nigeria.
Study design: The histological diagnoses of 178 consecutive Nigerian patients with breast cancer were retrieved from their hospital records. A subset of 36 patients was staged and their tumours typed and graded. Immunohistochemical staining of sections from paraffin wax embedded tissues from these cases for the expression of oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PGR), Human ERBB2 (or HER2/neu), p53 and cyclin D1 (CCND1) was carried out using the avidin biotin complex (ABC) procedure.
Results: A majority of the cases were invasive ductal carcinoma (92.7%), high grade (grade 3, 70.6%) and of late clinical stage (stages III and IV, 58.3%). Only 25% and 27.8% of cases expressed ER and PGR respectively. The ERBB2 and CCND1 antigens were expressed in 25%, and 5.7% of cases respectively. The p53 protein was the most frequently expressed in this study (47.2% of cases). High grade tumours were significantly more likely to be ER and PGR negative (P = 0.006 and P = 0.002 respectively). CONLCLUSION: There is predominance of high grade, invasive ductal carcinomas which are likely to be ER and PGR negative but p53 positive. These features suggest a biologically aggressive form of breast cancer in Nigerian women with the possibility of poor response to both hormonal therapy and chemotherapy.