Introduction: Androgen receptor (AR) is one of the predominant nuclear hormone receptors in invasive breast cancer and can be explored as a biomarker of response for targeted anti-androgen therapy, especially in the setting of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Luminal AR is a distinct subtype amongst TNBC cases following gene expression studies. TNBC is higher in Africans (23%–82%) and African-Americans (29.8%) compared to Caucasian (10%–15%) breast cancer patients; however, there is a paucity of data on AR expression in this population. The aim of this study is to determine the expression of AR and the proportion of AR positive cancers in TNBCs at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria.
Methodology: Out of 99 reviewed cases, 78 formalin fixed, paraffin embedded TNBC cases were assembled into a tissue microarray, stained and analysed for AR expression using immunohistochemistry.
Results: The mean age of the TNBC patients was 49.3 years (range: 20–80 years). The histologic types in this study were invasive carcinoma (no special type) 75.4%; metaplastic carcinoma 21.4%; lobular carcinoma and mucinous carcinoma 1.6% each. Of 61 TNBC cases analysed, 37.7% were AR positive and 62.3% were AR negative, making the latter to become quadruple negative breast cancers. There was a significant association between age and AR expression (p = 0.02). In the subjects that expressed AR positivity, patients below 50 years accounted for 34.8% (8 of 23) while 65.2% (15 of 23) were above 50 years. There was no significant association between AR expression and histologic type or tumour grade.
Conclusion: Over a third of this Nigerian TNBC cohort study is AR+. This warrants further exploration of the predictive and prognostic significance of its expression amongst TNBC and the potential for targeted therapy, specifically androgen antagonists to improve the outcome of this disease with limited therapeutic options.