Introduction: Breast cancers of different histology have different clinical and prognostic features. There are also indications of differences in aetiology. We therefore evaluated the risk of the three most common histological subtypes in relation to menopausal hormone therapy and other breast cancer risk factors.
Methods: We used a population-based case-control study of breast cancer to evaluate menopausal hormone therapy and other breast cancer risk factors for risk by histological subtype. Women aged 50 to 74 years, diagnosed with invasive ductal (n = 1,888), lobular (n = 308) or tubular (n = 93) breast cancer in Sweden in 1993 to 1995 were compared with 3,065 age-frequency matched controls randomly selected from the population. Unconditional logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for ductal, lobular, and tubular cancer.
Results: Women who had used medium potency estrogen alone were at increased risks of both ductal and lobular cancer. Medium potency estrogen-progestin was associated with increased risks for all subtypes, but the estimates for lobular and tubular cancer were higher compared with ductal cancer. We found OR 5.6 (95% CI 3.2-9.7) for lobular cancer, OR 6.5 (95% CI 2.8-14.9) for tubular cancer and OR 2.3 (95% CI 1.6-3.3) for ductal cancer with > or =5 years use of medium potency estrogen-progestin therapy. Low potency oral estrogen (mainly estriol) appeared to be associated with an increased risk for lobular cancer, but the association was strongest for short-term use. Reproductive and anthropometric factors, smoking, and past use of oral contraceptives were mostly similarly related to the risks of the three breast cancer subtypes. Recent alcohol consumption of > 10 g alcohol/day was associated with increased risk only for tubular cancer (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.4-6.8).
Conclusion: Menopausal hormone therapy was associated with increased risks for breast cancer of both ductal and lobular subtype, and medium potency estrogen-progestin therapy was more strongly associated with lobular compared with ductal cancer. We also found medium potency estrogen-progestin therapy and alcohol to be strongly associated with tubular cancer. With some exceptions, most other risk factors seemed to be similarly associated with the three subtypes of breast cancer.