MIAMI — Puerto Rican women who had breast cancer that lacked estrogen and progesterone receptors and did not overexpress the HER2neu protein (triple-negative) had worse survival than those with other types of invasive breast cancer, according to a study presented at the Third AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, held Sept. 30 – Oct. 3, 2010.
"As the incidence of breast cancer rises in Puerto Rico, following U.S. trends, it is important to understand the association of disease subtypes with survival," said Ana P. Ortiz Martinez, M.P.H., Ph.D., associate professor and researcher at the University of Puerto Rico Cancer Center and the department of biostatistics and epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico. "Breast cancer is a complex disease, with distinct subtypes with widely differing therapeutic indications and clinical outcomes."
This is the first published study on the impact of tumor subtypes and other clinical factors on breast cancer survival in Puerto Rico.
Researchers analyzed data for 974 female patients with invasive breast cancer who were diagnosed and treated in two main hospitals in Puerto Rico from 2000 to 2005.
The risk of breast cancer death for Puerto Rican women who had the triple-negative breast cancer subtype was more than twice as high as women with other tumor subtypes, even after accounting for a woman's age and cancer stage at diagnosis.
Women who were 50 years old or younger at the time of diagnosis and had regional/distant disease were also more likely to die as a result of their breast cancer.
Of the women studied, 22.5 percent had breast cancer that was HER2neu-positive (meaning that it overexpressed this protein); 60.9 percent of the breast cancers were positive for estrogen or progesterone receptors, but negative for HER2neu; and 16.6 percent were triple negative, neither overexpressing HER2neu nor receptive to estrogen or progesterone.
Findings, which were consistent with results described in previous studies of U.S. populations, will be useful in the development of cancer control strategies in Puerto Rico and may have an impact on future studies of targeted therapies to improve breast cancer survival in other Hispanic populations, said Ortiz Martinez.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 32,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists, providing a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.
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