Hispanic women in Puerto Rico who have triple-negative breast cancer share similar disease characteristics with Hispanic women in California, suggesting that race plays a significant role in the presentation of triple-negative breast cancer among Hispanic women.?

Triple-negative breast cancer is breast cancer that does not express genes for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) or Her2/neu. About 10-20% of all breast cancers, more than one out of every 10 breast cancers diagnosed, are found to be triple-negative. Studies have shown that triple-negative breast cancer is more likely to spread beyond the breast and more likely to recur after treatment. Five-year survival ratestends to be lower for triple-negative breast cancer.

Similar disease characteristics?
These study results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), held in Chicago, March 31 – April 4, 2012.

?We think the fact that our patients are geographically located outside the mainland and still have the same disease characteristics suggests that the biology of the disease plays a major role in how the disease is expressed in these patients compared with other factors that have been considered like socioeconomic status, access to treatment, etc.,? said Edna M. Mora, M.D., associate professor in the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicinedepartment of surgery and the University of Puerto RicoComprehensive Cancer Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Biology of the disease?
?Based on our results, we speculate that the biology of the disease promotes the tumors to be more aggressive,? she said. ?Knowing that biology is important, because then we can develop different treatment strategies for the different subtypes of triple-negative cancers.”

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Prognosis and survival?
“Overall, Hispanic women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, but among those who develop the disease, prognosis and survival are poor,” Mora noted.

In this cross-sectional study, the researchers analyzed data from 1,082 women with breast cancer who were diagnosed between 2000 and 2005. Mora and colleagues obtained data from hospital cancer registries and through a medical record review. The prevalence of triple-negative breast cancer was 16.3%, which is comparable to the percentage among Hispanics in California, Mora said. Compared with women with HER2-negative, estrogen receptor-positive disease, patients in the triple-negative group were younger at diagnosis and had larger tumor size, invasive ductal histology and higher tumor grades.

Most importantly, these results showed that the HER2-negative patients whose tumors expressed estrogen receptors had a dramatically different disease presentation and better outcomes, Mora explained. ?When the patient?s tumor expressed estrogen receptor, it made a significant difference in terms of how the patient responds to therapy and behaves in terms of survival,? she said.

For more information:?
Breast Cancer Treatment (PDQ?) -?Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

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