Document Type



General Surgery (East Africa); Imaging and Diagnostic Radiology (East Africa); Pathology (East Africa)


Purpose: There are no published data from specific regions of sub-Saharan Africa describing the clinical and pathological characteristics and molecular subtypes of invasive breast cancer by ethnic group. The purpose of this study was to investigate these characteristics among the three major ethno-cultural groupings in Kenya.

Methods: The study included women with pathologically confirmed breast cancer diagnosed between March 2012 and May 2015 at 11 hospitals throughout Kenya. Sociodemographic, clinical, and reproductive data were collected by questionnaire, and pathology review and immunohistochemistry were performed centrally.

Results: The 846 cases included 661 Bantus (78.1%), 143 Nilotes (16.9%), 19 Cushites (2.3%), and 23 patients of mixed ethnicity (2.7%). In analyses comparing the two major ethnic groups, Bantus were more educated, more overweight, had an older age at first birth, and had a younger age at menopause than Nilotes (p < 0.05 for all comparisons). In analyses restricted to definitive surgery specimens, there were no statistically significant differences in tumor characteristics or molecular subtypes by ethnicity, although the Nilote tumors tended to be larger (OR for ≥ 5 cm vs. < 2 cm: 3.86, 95% CI 0.77, 19.30) and were somewhat more likely to be HER2 enriched (OR for HER2 enriched vs. Luminal A/B: 1.41, 95% CI 0.79, 2.49).

Conclusion: This case series showed no significant differences in breast cancer tumor characteristics or molecular subtypes, but significant differences in sociodemographic characteristics and reproductive factors, among the three major ethnic groups in Kenya. We suggest further evaluation of ethnic differences in breast cancer throughout the genetically and culturally diverse populations of sub-Saharan Africa.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment