Young Filipino breast cancer patients have worse survival outcomes

23 Nov 2023
Ralph Victor Yap, Deanne Lou Marquez, Frances Marion De La Serna

Background: In the 2020 GLOBOCAN report, breast cancer is the 3rd most common cause of cancer-related mortality in the Philippines. The incidence of breast cancer in the young (≤40 years) was reported to be higher in the Philippines compared to other Asian countries. Several studies have consistently demonstrated poor survival outcomes in this age group due to its aggressiveness and unique tumour biology. However, data on survival outcomes of young Filipino breast cancer patients remains unknown in the Philippines.

Methods: A retrospective study was performed involving patients with stage I–III breast cancer who underwent definitive surgery from January 2010 to December 2015 at a single-tertiary institution. Patients were grouped according to age (≤40 and >40 years old). Their clinicopathological characteristics, treatment profile and 5-year survival outcomes were analyzed. 

Results: A total of 524 Filipino patients (15.1% aged ≤40 years) were included. Younger patients were diagnosed at a higher stage and pathologic grade. A negative hormone receptor, high Ki67 status, and triple negative breast  cancer (TNBC) subtypes were also more common among younger patients. The overall breast-conserving surgery rate was low at 8.9%. The use of adjuvant chemoradiotherapy was more common and both 5-year overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were lower (61.1% versus 77.1% and 31.1% versus 66.8%, respectively) in the ≤40-year-old group. In the multivariate analysis, age group, tumour size, and nodal status were significant predictors for DFS. However, only tumour size was significant for OS.

Conclusion: Young Filipino breast cancer patients have demonstrated unique pathologic characteristics with associated lower survival outcomes similar to the published literature. Increasing awareness of cancer screening practices among young women, provision of equitable access to healthcare, and prompt management of breast cancer in the young are crucial.

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