Purpose: Population-based incidence rates of breast cancers that are negative for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2/ neu (triple-negative breast cancer [TNBC]) are higher among African American (AA) compared with white American (WA) women, and TNBC prevalence is elevated among selected populations of African patients. The extent to which TNBC risk is related to East African versus West African ancestry, and whether these associations extend to expression of other biomarkers, is uncertain.
Methods: We used immunohistochemistry to evaluate estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2/ neu, androgen receptor and aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) expression among WA (n = 153), AA (n = 76), Ethiopian (Eth)/East African (n = 90), and Ghanaian (Gh)/West African (n = 286) patients with breast cancer through an institutional review board-approved international research program.
Results: Mean age at diagnosis was 43, 49, 60, and 57 years for the Eth, Gh, AA, and WA patients, respectively. TNBC frequency was higher for AA and Gh patients (41% and 54%, respectively) compared with WA and Eth patients (23% and 15%, respectively; P < .001) Frequency of ALDH1 positivity was higher for AA and Gh patients (32% and 36%, respectively) compared with WA and Eth patients (23% and 17%, respectively; P = .007). Significant differences were observed for distribution of androgen receptor positivity: 71%, 55%, 42%, and 50% for the WA, AA, Gh, and Eth patients, respectively ( P = .008).
Conclusion: Extent of African ancestry seems to be associated with particular breast cancer phenotypes. West African ancestry correlates with increased risk of TNBC and breast cancers that are positive for ALDH1.