Objective: To document the pathologic features of breast cancer in Jamaica.
Methods: The pathology reports and slides of all patients diagnosed with breast cancer at the National Public Health Laboratory between January 1999 and December 2002 were reviewed. Patient age and gender, side involved, number of tumours identified, tumour size, histologic type, histologic grade, degree of lymph node involvement and parish of origin of the specimens were documented.
Results: There were 772 patients, 762 females and 10 males; age range 21 to 96 (mean 57.9 ± 15.9) years. There were 778 specimens (6 bilateral cases), the majority of whom originated from Kingston and St Andrew (34.7%). Manchester (22.9%), St Catherine (13.9%) and St Ann (7.3%) were the next most common sources. The left breast was involved in 50.5% of cases. Gross tumour was identified in 641 (82.4%) specimens, the number of tumours ranging from 1 – 6 (mean 1.1 ± 0.6). The maximum gross tumour dimension ranged from 0.3 to 15 cm (mean 4.1 ± 2.7 cm). Infiltrating duct carcinoma was the predominant histologic type (69.3 %); 13.3%, 49.5% and 37.2 % of all infiltrating tumours were well, moderately and poorly differentiated respectively. In-situ lesions (7.1% of tumours) were all of the ductal phenotype. Axillary lymph nodes were submitted in 296 (38.1%) cases; metastatic disease was identified in 224 (75.7%) of these. The total number of nodes submitted ranged from 1 – 34 (mean 10.8 ± 6.7) with an average of 6.1 (± 5.8) being positive for metastases (range 1 – 29).
Conclusions: The pathologic features of breast cancer documented in this series including average tumour size, histologic types and grade and the degree of lymph node involvement are consistent with patient presentation at relatively advanced stages of disease and highlight the urgent need for public health intervention including a national screening programme.