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Home News and Update Year 2010 2 Sub-types of Breast Cancer Common Among Women

2 Sub-types of Breast Cancer Common Among Women

Times of India
5 February 2010
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

Cancer Rally
Her–2 positive and triple negative are the more aggressive forms of cancer. Worryingly, these two subtypes of breast cancer are more common among Indian women than among their Western counterparts.

Against this backdrop, medical oncologist Shona Nag from the Pune– based Jehangir hospital and her research partner Sudeep Gupta from Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital will study 1,000 women who walk into breast cancer clinics at these two hospitals for the first time.

The objective is to find out the distribution of cancer types among urban women, their relation to various risk factors and to come up with a prevention plan. The study wil also look at what role does ethnicity play in deciding the type of cancer.

“Her–2 positive and triple negative are forms of breast cancer that are commonly seen among Indian women. Previous studies about them were retrospective. This is for the first time that a study has been initiated which will analyse the true distribution of these cancer form among urban women,” Nag said.

A total of 1,000 women who will visit Jehangir Hospital, Pune, and Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, will be enrolled for the study. While two–third of them will be enrolled at TMH, the rest will be registered at Jehangir hospital, she added.

These women will be put through a battery of tests to map their risk factors. One point would be to assess how much of a role does their ethnicity play in deciding the type of breast cancer, added Nag. “The study, for the first time, attempts to find out whether infection caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) has any role in developing these cancer types among urban women,” Nag said.

“In the West, hormone positive cancer accounts for 60–65% of all breast cancer cases. In India, it accounts for only 40–50% of the cases,” she said. This is the type that is slow progressing and less virulent.

On the other hand, Her–2 positive and triple–negative account for 20% and 15% of cases respectively in the West. “But in India, Her–2 positive accounts for 30% and triple–negative accounts for 25% of the cases.” These type of cancer are more aggressive and more difficult to treat, added Nag.

Pharma major GSK has awarded grants for carrying out the study as part of its Ethnic Research Initiative.

Fact File
According to the National Cancer Registry, breast cancer has replaced cancer of the cervix as the leading cancer among women in urban India

The age adjusted incidence of this cancer has also been on the rise. Incidence of breast cancer is 24 in every one lakh population.

Indian women get breast cancer a decade earlier than their Western counterparts

Why the research?
There is not much data available on the distribution of breast cancer subtypes and their associations with various risk factors among Indian women. Most assumptions have been based on retrospective studies and individual practices. Similarly, data on the risk factor associations of the various subtypes of breast cancer in India is nonexistent.

Risk Factors
Studies have shown the association of smoking, alcohol intake, a high fat diet, reproductive factors and socioeconomic status with the occurrence of breast cancer. This probably explains its relationship with a Western lifestyle and environment.

This could also probably explain the increased incidence of breast cancer among women residing in metropolitan cities of India, where a “Western” lifestyle seems to be increasing.
(Source: Cancer department, Jehangir hospital, Pune)

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