Clinicopathological characteristics of breast cancer patients from Northern Tanzania: common aspects of late stage presentation and triple negative breast cancer

Marianne Gnanamuttupulle1,2, Oliver Henke3 , Shilanaiman Hilary Ntundu1,2, Furaha Serventi3 , Leila E Mwakipunda3, Patrick Amsi4, Alex Mremi4 , Kondo Chilonga1,2, David Msuya1,2 and Samuel G Chugulu1,2
Publication year: 


Breast cancer (BC) is the second most common cancer among Tanzanian women. Oestrogen (ER), progesterone and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 play major roles in prognosis and treatment but data for Tanzania are sparse. This study aimed to determine these patterns and histological types, tumour grading and staging of BC patients in northern Tanzania for a better understanding of BC in the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) setting.


A cross-sectional study recorded newly diagnosed BC cases at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre between October 2018 and March 2019. Receptor status, histological types and grade, clinical stage and socio-demographic were recorded and descriptive and bivariate analyses performed.


116 patients were enrolled. Median age was 53 years, 71.6% were ≥45 years. The commonest molecular subtype was triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) (n = 33; 28.4%). One hundred and two (87.9%) patients had invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), poorly differentiated tumours (60; 51.7%) and clinical stage III disease (62; 53.0%). ER negative tumours were associated with poorly differentiated histological grade (relative risk (RR): 1.34 (0.87–2.07)), tumour size > 5 cm (RR: 1.67 (0.33–8.35)) and IDC (RR: 3.35 (0.56–20.23)). Clinical stages III & IV (odds ratio (OR): 1.64 (0.63–4.24)) were associated with hormone receptor (HR) negative tumours and metastasis (OR: 1.60 (0.68–3.74)) with TNBC. 18% of the patients reported about first-degree relatives with BC.


Most patients presented in advanced stages and TNBC in their menopause. HR negative tumours were associated with poor histological differentiation and IDC. The high percentage of positive family history of BC and the differences in receptor patterns compared to other parts of the world should urge further genetic research on BC in SSA.