Comprehensive evaluation of the large body of consistent evidence from laboratory, epidemiologic and clinical studies has led to the conclusion that modification of the dietary and lifestyle patterns of populations has considerable potential for reducing cancer risk. This paper describes a randomized-controlled trial involving a diet and lifestyle intervention for patients with history of colorectal adenomas. The primary aim of this trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention with reference to recurrence of adenomatous polyps over a two year period--the first year being the intervention period and the second year of the study allowing for post-intervention follow-up. Subjects found to fit the inclusion criteria are recruited and randomized to two groups: the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group subjects will attend a monthly lecture-discussion session for 10 months and small group counseling on modification of lifestyle behavior and diet as well as receive educational materials which were adapted from the WCRF Diet and Health Recommendations for Cancer Prevention. Control subjects will be provided with the usual care given to such patients. One hundred and sixteen patients who were diagnosed with colorectal adenomatous polyps in the previous twelve months at the Hospital Kuala Lumpur have already been enrolled in this trial. Baseline data collection is on-going.
Breast cancer is the most common female cancer and the commonest cause of death due to cancer for women in Malaysia. This study was performed to identify the relationship with lifestyle factors. A case-control study was conducted among females with breast cancer who came for treatment to the Breast Clinic Hospital Kuala Lumpur in July until September 2004. A total of 203 female patients were recruited as cases along with 203 patients who attended the Outpatient Clinic, Hospital Kuala Lumpur during the study period as the controls. The study showed women who did not exercise regularly to have four times higher risk (adjusted odds ratio is 3.49, 95% CI is 1.84 to 6.62) compared to those who exercised regularly. Women with a high fat diet were also at elevated risk (adjusted odds ratio 3.84, 95% CI is 1.20 to 12.34) compared to those consuming a low fat diet. Women without breast cancer generally had a longer duration of lifetime lactation with a median of thirty-three months compared to women with breast cancer (twenty months, p<0.05). Women who did not take oral contraceptive pills but had breast-fed their child have a 56.0% lower risk (crude odds ratio 0.44, CI is 0.22 to 0.87) compared to women who did not take oral contraceptive pill and also did not breast-feed their child. If they had breast fed for thirteen months and above, they faced a 61.0% lower risk (crude odds ratio 0.39, 95% CI is 0.17 to 0.87). There was a significant inverse trend for lifetime lactation and breast cancer risk. In conclusion certain life styles of women are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer development. Therefore, the promotion of a healthy life style should be emphasized.
Study site: Breast Clinic, Outpatient clinic, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Data from the National Cancer Registry of Malaysia for 2004 provide an age-standardised incidence rate (ASR) of 46.2 per 100,000 women. This means that approximately 1 in 20 women in the country develop breast cancer in their lifetime. However, the rate differs between the three main races, the Malays, Chinese and Indians. The age standardized incidence in Chinese is the highest, with 59.7 per 100,000, followed by the Indians at 55.8 per 100,000. The Malays have the lowest incidence of 33.9 per 100,000. This translates into 1 in 16 Chinese, 1 in 16 Indian and 1 in 28 Malay women developing breast cancer at some stage in their lives. The commonest age at presentation is between 40-49 years, with just over 50% of the cases under the age of 50 years, 16.8% below 40, and 2% under 30. Some 55.7% of all cases were found to be ER positive. The commonest presenting symptom was a lump in the breast in over 90% of cases, generally felt by the woman herself. The mean size of the lump was 4.2 cm, and on average, the women waited 3 months before seeking medical attention. Over the 12-year period from 1993 to 2004, about 60-70% of women presented with early stage (Stages 1-2) while 30-40% presented with late breast cancer (Stages 3-4). Especially Malays present at later stages and with larger tumours. Consequently their survival is worse than with Chinese and Indian women. The challenge in Malaysia is to be able to provide a comprehensive service in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, and this requires training of a team of health professionals dedicated to breast health, such as breast surgeons, radiologists specializing in breast imaging, breast pathologists, plastic surgeons specializing in breast reconstruction, medical and radiation oncologists, psycho-oncologists, counselors, and breast nurses. Advocacy can play a role here in galvanizing the political will to meet this challenge.
INTRODUCTION: Malaysian women have a 1 in 20 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Sabah, formerly known as North Borneo, is part of East Malaysia with a population of 3.39 million and more than 30 ethnic groups. We conducted a 2 year prospective epidemiological study to provide unreported data of breast cancer from this part of the world and to recognise which particular group of patients are more likely to present with advanced disease.
METHODS: All newly diagnosed breast cancers seen at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kota Kinabalu, from January 2005 to December 2006 were included in the study. Patient and tumour characteristics, including age, race, education, socioeconomic background, parity, practice of breast feeding, hormonal medication intake, menopausal status, family history, mode of presentation, histology, grade, stage of disease and hormonal receptors status were collected and analysed.
RESULTS: A total of 186 patients were seen. The commonest age group was 40 to 49 years old (32.3%). Chinese was the commonest race (30.6%) followed by Kadazan-Dusun (24.2%). The commonest histology was invasive ductal carcinoma (88.4%). Stages at presentation were Stage 0- 4.8%, Stage I- 12.9%, Stage II- 30.1%, Stage III- 36.6% and Stage IV- 15.6%. The estrogen and progesterone receptor status was positive in 59.1% and 54.8% of cases, respectively. 73.7% of Chinese patients presented with early cancer compared to 36.4% of the other races. Patients who presented with advanced disease were also poor, non-educated and from rural areas. 20.4% of patients defaulted treatment; most of them opted for traditional alternatives.
CONCLUSIONS: Sabahan women with breast cancer present late. Great efforts are needed to improve public awareness of breast cancer, especially among those who have higher risk of presenting with advanced disease.
The message that health care providers caring for patients with breast cancer would like to put forth, is that, not only early detection is crucial but early treatment too is important in ensuring survival. This paper examines the pattern of presentation at a single institution over a 10-year period from 1995 to 2005. In Malaysia, education outreach programmes are ongoing, with contributions not only from the public sector, but also private enterprise. Articles on breast cancer in local newspapers and women magazines and television are quite commonplace. However are our women getting the right message? Now is an appropriate time to bring the stakeholders together to formulate a way to reach all women in Malaysia, not excluding the fact that we are from different races, different education levels and backgrounds requiring differing ways of delivering health promotion messages. To answer the question of why women present late, we prospectively studied 25 women who presented with locally advanced disease. A quantitative, quasi-qualitative study was embarked upon, as a prelude to a more detailed study. Reasons for presenting late were recorded. We also looked at the pattern of presentation of breast lumps in women to our breast clinic in UMMC and in the surgical clinic in Hospital Kota Bharu, in the smaller capital of the state of Kelantan, in 2003. There is hope for the future, the government being a socially responsible one is currently making efforts towards mammographic screening in Malaysia. However understanding of the disease, acceptance of medical treatment and providing resources is imperative to ensure that health behaviour exhibited by our women is not self-destructive but self-preserving. Women are an integral part of not only the nation's workforce but the lifeline of the family - hopefully in the next decade we will see great improvement in the survival of Malaysian women with breast cancer.
The great variability in gastric cancer rates across Asia, with very high incidences in Japan and Korea, and exceedingly low incidences in ethnic Malays, whether in Malaysia or Indonesia, appears largely due to variation in Helicobacter pylori infection rates. While between 2% and 10.6% of gastric cancers in a recent Japanese survey were considered to be negative for bacterial infection on the basis of seropositivity and H. pylori-dependent mucosal atrophy, it is notoriously difficult to preclude past infection. The situation is greatly complicated by reported differences in the etiology of gastric cardia and non-cardia cancers. In the Western world there do appear to be tumours arising close to the esophageal-gastric junction which are not related to H. pylori and associated inflammation, but in most Asian populations these appear to be very rare. Therefore preventive efforts, and particularly screening, should be focused on markers of bacterial infection, with avoidance of unnecessary exposure to X-ray radiation.
The purpose of this study was to examine the distribution of prostate-specific antigen levels among Chinese, Malays and Indians in Singapore, taking the effect of age into consideration. The study was carried out as part of the Singapore Prostate Awareness Week from 23-26th February 2004. Men above 50 years old went to four government-restructured hospitals to participate in the study. Participants filled up a questionnaire and provided 5 ml of blood for measurement of PSA levels using the Abbott IMx Total PSA assay (Abbott Laboratories). 3,486 men responded to the study, comprising 92.8% Chinese, 3.0% Malays, 2.5% Indians and 1.8% Others. 92.7% of them had PSA levels of 4 microg/L or less. There were no significant differences (p<0.05) between the mean PSA levels of Chinese (1.60 microg/L), Malays (1.39 microg/L), Indians (1.23 microg/L) and Others (1.70 microg/L). PSA levels were significantly associated with age (Spearman's r= 0.27, p<0.01). PSA levels increased with each 10-year age group and these trends were significant (p<0.0001) across both PSA group levels and age groupings. In the 50-60 years age groups, the prevalence of PSA levels >4 mug/L were 1.1% and 3.7% respectively. This rose rapidly to 11.3% and 23.5% for age groups >60-70 and >80 years respectively. Our study shows that the median PSA levels in the Caucasian population in the USA are higher than those of Chinese, Malays and Indians in Singapore. PSA levels were positively associated with age. It may be more appropriate to offer PSA testing to men who are >60 years old rather than the current >50 years.
Breast cancer is the commonest cancer affecting females in Malaysia, contributing 31% of all newly diagnosed cases amongst Malaysian women. The present retrospective cohort study evaluated the relationship between cerbB- 2 onco-protein overexpression with various tumour characteristics and survival rate of breast cancer patients treated at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC) between 1996-2000. CerbB- 2 oncoprotein overexpression was determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and tumors showing 2+ positivity were verified by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH). One hundred and seventy two patients were eligible for the study with a short-term follow-up (median) of 5.1 years. C-erbB-2 oncoprotein overexpression correlated with lymph node positivity, oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) negativity. Univariate analyses showed shorter disease free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients with cerbB- 2 oncoprotein overexpression, Malay ethnicity, higher tumour grade, lymph node positivity, ER and PR negativity. In a subgroup of patients with c-erbB-2 oncoprotein overexpression, a shorter OS was observed in those with lymph node positivity, ER and PR negativity. In multivariate prognostic analysis, lymph node status, ER status and tumour grading were the strongest independent prognostic factors for both OS and DFS. However, c-erbB-2 status was not a significantly independent prognostic factor, even in subsets with lymph node positive or negative group. C-erbB-2 oncoprotein overexpression correlated well with lymph node status, ER and PR. Shorter OS and DFS were significantly observed in patients with c-erbB-2 oncoprotein overexpression. Lymph node status, ER status and tumour grading were the only three independent prognostic factors for OS and DFS in this study. Although c-erbB-2 expression is obviously important from a biological standpoint, multivariate analysis showed that it is not an independent prognostic indicator in breast carcinoma in the local population.
The traditional classification of infiltrating breast carcinomas into ductal and lobular can be diagnostically challenging in a small proportion of cases with equivocal histological features and in in-situ lesions with overlapping features. Distinguishing between the infiltrating ductal (IDC) and lobular (ILC) carcinomas is clinically important because of the different pattern of systemic metastases and prognostic evaluation. E-cadherin is a potentially useful immunohistochemical marker which may serve to differentiate between the two tumour types. We therefore studied E-cadherin expression in 32 cases of breast carcinomas comprising 16 IDCs and 16 ILCs. The correlation between E-cadherin expression and the histological grade of IDCs was also analysed. Our results showed complete loss of E-cadherin expression in all ILCs, while the IDCs consistently showed variable E-cadherin positivity. No significant correlation was found between E- cadherin expression and the histological grade of IDCs. We conclude from this study that E-cadherin is a useful marker to differentiate between IDC and ILC of the breast. A larger study of IDCs is now needed to further evaluate the correlation between E-cadherin and tumour grade to estimate its prognostic potential.
BACKGROUND: In Malaysia, acute leukemia is the most common cancer among children below the age of 15. A case-control study was here conducted for cases from the Klang Valley, Malaysia, who received treatment at the National University of Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) and Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (GHKL). The main objective was to determine any association with environmental factors.
METHODS: Case subjects were children aged below 15 years and diagnosed with acute leukemia in HUKM and GHKL between January 1, 2001 and May 30, 2007. Control subjects were children aged below 15 years who were diagnosed with any non-cancerous acute illnesses in these hospitals. A total of 128 case subjects and 128 control subjects were enrolled in this study. The information was collected using a structured questionnaire and a global positioning system (GPS) device. All factors were analyzed using unmatched logistic regression.
RESULTS: The analysis showed that the occurrence of acute leukemia among children was strongly determined by the following factors: family income (odds ratio (OR) 0.19, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.09-0.42), father with higher social contact (OR 7.61, 95% CI: 3.78-15.4), number of elder siblings (OR 0.36, 95% CI: 0.18-0.77), father who smokes (OR 2.78, 95% CI: 1.49-5.16), and the distance of the house from a power line (OR 2.30, 95% CI: 1.18-4.49).
CONCLUSIONS: Some socioeconomic, demographic, and environmental factors are strong predictors of the occurrence of acute leukemia among children in Klang Valley, Malaysia. In terms of environmental factors, it is recommended that future housing areas should be developed at least 200 m away from power lines.
The differentiation between cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 3 (CIN 3) and early squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the cervix may be difficult in certain situations. Identification of invasion beyond the basement membrane is the gold standard for the diagnosis of the latter. The objective of this study was to determine whether the use of Ki-67 and p53 could help in solving the above dilemma. This was a retrospective study on 61 cases of cervical neoplasms comprising of 25 cases of CIN 3 and 36 SCC. All cases were evaluated by immunohistochemistry using Ki-67 and p53 monoclonal antibodies. Results showed that the differences of Ki-67 and p53 expression between CIN 3 and SCC were statistically significant. In conclusion, Ki-67 and p53 may serve as helpful adjuncts to routinely-stained histological sections in differentiating between CIN 3 and SCC.
OBJECTIVE: Kelantan in Malaysia has a high prevalence of diabetes and colorectal cancer is also on the rise. This study is to determine the association of metabolic diseases, particularly diabetes type 2 [DM2] and hypertension, with colorectal cancer patients in our population.
METHODS: This retrospective study was conducted on all colorectal carcinomas in Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) in Kelantan from ythe ears 2001-2006. The data were retrieved from the Registry in Pathology laboratory and the clinical details from the patients' clinical records and analyzed using SSPS Version 12.0, with a value of p<0.05 taken to be statistically significant.
RESULTS: 138 CRC cases with complete clinical records were included. The age ranged from 16.0 to 88.0 years, with a mean of 56.9 -/+ SD 15.4. The male 90(65%) to female 48(35%) ratio was 1.7:1.0 and 47.8% were suffering from metabolic diseases; 18(13.0%) with Diabetes Mellitus Type 2(DM2), and 48(34.8%) with hypertension (HT). Diabetes Type 2 and hypertension also demonstrated significant association (p<0.05) with the stage and the site of the cancer. Patients with diabetes type 2 88.8%(16/18) and Hypertension 85.4% (41/48) were strongly associated with cancers located in the distal to transverse colon (p<0.001).
CONCLUSION: There is a high proportion of metabolic diseases; hypertension and diabetes type 2 among colorectal carcinomas seen in Kelantan population. In this preliminary study we noted a strong association of metabolic diseases with the stage and site of the cancer. To reduce CRC incidence, the high prevalence of DM2 in Kelantan needs to be addressed.
A cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the knowledge and practices of 425 female secondary school teachers from 20 selected secondary schools in Selangor, Malaysia on breast cancer screening (BCS). A self-administered, structured questionnaire was used for data collection. This study showed moderate to low knowledge on breast cancer (BC) and BCS among teachers. Only 19%, 25% and 13.6% eligible women performed breast self-examination (BSE), clinical breast examination (CBE) and mammography respectively, on a regular basis. Level of breast cancer knowledge was significantly associated with BSE (p<0.001). Having heard/ read about BCS, and regular visit with a physician were associated with BCS behaviors (P<0.05). There was no association between BCS behaviors (P>0.05) and age, family history of breast cancer, marital status or having health insurance. Efforts are needed to increase knowledge and remove misconceptions about breast cancer and screening practices among Malaysian women.
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is the commonest cancer amongst Malaysian women but local survival data are scarce. The present study was therefore conducted to assess overall survival and prognostic factors in Malaysian breast cancer patients.
METHODS: The research sample was a prospective cohort of 413 patients diagnosed with breast cancer in the University of Malaya Medical Centre between 1993 to 1997. Survival data were obtained from the National Registry of Birth and Deaths in December 2000. The clinico-pathological variables studied were age, ethnic group, stage, tumour size, lymph node status, oestrogen receptor status and grade. The data were analysed utilizing Splus statistical software. The important prognostic factors were identified by fitting the Cox's proportional hazard model to the data set. Survival probabilities were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and differences were compared by the log-rank test.
RESULTS: The overall 5-year survival was 59.1%. The Cox's proportional hazard model identified stage, lymph node status, size and grade as factors that correlated with prognosis. Age was not a significant prognostic factor. The Cox regression model by stepwise selection showed stage, nodal status and grade of tumour to be independent prognostic factors, whereas ethnicity, age and ER status were not.
INTERPRETATION: The overall survival in our centre was low. Recognizing factors that affect prognosis of breast cancer patients in Malaysia may improve delivery of health care to at-risk groups by strategizing interventions as survival depends on early detection and effective treatment.
Despite the mountain of information generated by researchers, the cancer problem has not significantly declined and perhaps in certain situations it is gradually increasing, affecting those who are previously at low risk. There is a tendency to believe that positive outcomes can always be expected once intervention activities, like exercise promotion, are carried out, but practical experience gives rise to serious doubt. A greater understanding of the biological mechanisms operating in the physical activity, cancer relation, complete measurement of physical activity through a subject's life, assessment of all potential confounders and association modifiers are needed to confirm a protective role of physical activity in cancer development and allow specific exercise prescriptions for community-based prevention in particular cancer sites. Furthermore, the most important impetus of any community intervention approach should be oriented in the form of 'from people to the people'. More emphasis needs to be placed on effective management and parameters for assessment of management success.
A case control study was carried out to investigate associations between breast cancer risk, antioxidant status and oxidative stress among women in Klang Valley and Selangor. A total of 57 newly diagnosed cases aged 30 to 66 years old participated and were matched for age and ethnicity with 139 controls with no diagnosis of cancer or other chronic diseases. An interview based questionnaire designed to collect information on demographic and socioeconomic status, as well as reproductive, medical and dietary history was used. Anthropometric measurements including weight, height, waist and hip circumference were made and a 10 ml fasting venous blood sample was taken for glucose testing and analysis of plasma vitamin antioxidants and malondialdehyde. Hair and toenail samples were taken for selenium analysis. Results showed that the mean intake of vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium among cases (606.8 +/- 334.8 microg/d, 6.1 +/- 2.4 g/d, 56.9 +/- 16.2 microg/d) was lower than controls (724.7 +/- 414 microg/day, 6.9 +/- 3.0 g/d, 60.8 +/- 17.5 microg/d, respectively) (p<0.05 for all parameters). A similar trend was noted for plasma vitamin A and E and also selenium in hair and toenails. Poor antioxidant status as indicated by low plasma vitamin A (<284.3 microg/l or <366.3 microg/l) increased risk of breast cancer by approximately two fold, whilst low plasma vitamin E (<2.5 mg/dl, <2.8 mg/dl and <3.1 mg/dl) increased the risk by two to three fold [Adjusted OR 2.97 (95% CI 1.38-3.48), 2.32 (95% CI 1.07-2.41) and 2.12 (95% CI 1.00-4.21)]. Cases had a greater level of malondialdehyde 4.4 +/- 1.1 mmol/g protein), an indicator of oxidative stress, as compared to controls (3.2 +/- 1.7 mmol/g protein) (p<0.05). A high level of MDA (> or = 4.8 mmol/g protein) was associated with breast cancer [Adjusted OR 6.82 (95% CI 1.95-23.9)]. It is concluded that a poor antioxidant status and high oxidative stress are associated with breast cancer risk. Thus, it is essential for Malaysian women to obtain a good antioxidant status by consuming a diet rich in vitamins A and E as well as selenium and adopt healthy behaviour to reduce oxidative stress in order to prevent breast cancer.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the trend of cancer cases in one major hospital in Kelantan over a 20 year period from 1987 to 2007 and to speculate the change in trend due to the socio-economic and other health status in the state.
METHODOLOGY: All data on clinically diagnosed cancer cases in Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia [HUSM] were retrieved from the hospital medical records. The cancers were classified according to ICD10 and scrutinized to avoid duplicate or more entries. The increment in cancer incidence was calculated based on total numbers of cancer cases per each 5-6 year period.
RESULTS: A total of 12,228 solid cancers were diagnosed during the period. There is an increment of 20.1% for 1991-1996 from 1987-1990 period, 67.4% for 1997-2001 from 1991-1996 period and 305.9% for 2002-2007 from the 1997-2001 period. The rise was steep in the last 5-6 years. After excluding referred cases from states outside Kelantan, the increments were 20.1%, 67.4% and 143.6% for the consecutive 5-6 year periods. The predominant rising trends were seen for cancers of the female organs, digestive tract and endocrine organs.
CONCLUSION: Cancer cases in HUSM are showing a rising trend, associated with increasing prevalence of smoking, obesity and diabetes in the community served by the hospital. Since HUSM is the only hospital managing cancer in the state of Kelantan, to reduce cancer incidence in the state, life-style issues need to be addressed.
INTRODUCTION: CA15-3 is a well-known tumour marker for breast cancer. Currently it is not recommended for screening or diagnosis of breast cancer and its main application is in monitoring response to treatment in women with metastatic breast cancer. The aim of this study was to correlate serum CA15-3 at presentation with the stage of disease and overall survival in women with breast cancer in the University Malaya Medical Centre.
METHODS: This is a retrospective study of 437 women who had CA15-3 levels determined at initial presentation of breast cancer to UMMC between Jan 1999 and Oct 2003.
RESULTS: Of those patients who were adequately staged, CA15-3 was found to be elevated (defined as >51 U/ml) in 0% of Stage 1, 7.9% of Stage 2, 36.7% of Stage 3 and 68.6% of Stage 4 cases. In a subset of 331 patients with survival data, patients with normal CA15-3 had a 85% five year overall survival rate compared to 38% in their counterparts with elevation of the tumor marker. The level of elevation was also significantly related to survival; patients with values more than 200 U/ml exhibited only a 28% five year survival. The association of elevated CA15-3 at initial presentation with poor outcome was maintained over univariate and multivariate analyses.
CONCLUSION: Estimation of CA15-3 at presentation of breast cancer is important as it is an independent prognostic indicator and may prompt the physician to investigate for metastases if elevated.
INTRODUCTION: Mastectomy is an essential but disfiguring operation in cancer treatment. The negative impact on body image can however be prevented by immediate reconstruction.
AIM: The aim of this study was to determine the reasons why patients choose to have or not to have immediate breast reconstruction.
METHODOLOGY: This is a cross sectional descriptive study of breast cancer patients post-mastectomy who had and had not undergone immediate breast reconstruction. The patients were asked a series of questions to ascertain the reasons why they chose or did not choose immediate breast reconstruction.
RESULTS: 136 patients in total were interviewed of which 23 had undergone immediate breast reconstruction. 36.8% of the patients had been offered reconstruction. In the non-reconstructed group, the main reason for not having reconstruction were fear of additional surgery. In the group that had reconstruction done, the main reason was to feel whole again. Low on the list were reasons such as trying to improve marital or sexual relations.
CONCLUSION: Only a third of patients undergoing mastectomy were offered immediate reconstruction. In public hospitals in developing countries, limited operating time and availability of plastic surgery services are major barriers to more women being offered the option.
INTRODUCTION: An important risk factor for developing breast cancer is a positive family history of breast cancer. In Malaysia, there is no population-based breast screening programme, but the clinical practice guidelines suggest increased surveillance for those with a positive family history ie mammography for those 40 years old and above, breast self-examination and clinical breast examination yearly.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if women with a family history of breast cancer present with earlier stages of disease.
METHODOLOGY: From Jan 2001 to Dec 2006, 1553 women with breast cancer presenting to the University Malaya, where family history was recorded, were eligible for this study. Women with a first or second degree relative with breast cancer were compared with those who have no family history with regard to their race, age, stage, size and duration of symptoms. The Chi Square test of significance was used for analysis.
RESULTS: Out of 1553 patients, 252 (16.2%) were found to have a relative with breast cancer out of which 174 (11.2%) had at least one affected first degree relative. There were no significant difference in the incidence of positive family history between the Malays, Chinese and Indians. 20% below the age of 40 years old had a positive family history compared with 12.6% in women with no family history. (p<0.05). There was no significant difference in stage at diagnosis between those with and without family history, ie 24.2% late stages (Stage 3 and 4) in the group with no family history compared with 21.8% in the group with family history. (p>0.05). The mean size in the group with no family history was 4.4 cm compared to 4.1 cm in the group with family history. There was a significant difference in screen-detected cancers in the women with family history, 10.7% compared with 5.1% of screen-detected cancers in the group without a family history. However there was no difference in the duration of symptoms between the 2 groups--25.8% in the women without a family history presented after 1 year of symptoms compared with 22.4% in the group with a family history (p>0.05).
CONCLUSION: Having a family history of breast cancer does not appear to have much impact on the health-seeking behavior of women. Even though there were more screen detected cancers, these comprised only 10% of the group with family history. Public education should target women at risk ie with family history to encourage these women to present earlier and to undergo screening for breast cancer.