Dr. Hurley on Breast Cancer Baseline Characteristics in the Caribbean Vs the United States

Judith E. Hurley, MD, discusses the baseline characteristics of patients with breast cancer in the Caribbean vs those in the United States.

Judith E. Hurley, MD, an oncologist at Jackson Memorial Hospital, discusses the baseline characteristics of patients with breast cancer in the Caribbean vs those in the United States.

Although numerous countries in the Caribbean do not have tumor registries, those that do, such as Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Jamaica, indicate that the average age of patients with breast cancer is younger compared with those who have the disease in the United States, Hurley says. The average patients with breast cancer in the United States are White women who are 62 years of age. In Trinidad, the average patient with breast cancer is female, Black, and 50 years of age; in Jamaica, the average patient is female, Black, and aged 49 years. Breast cancer primarily occurs in post-menopausal patients in the United States, whereas it primarily occurs in pre-menopausal patients in the Caribbean, Hurley says. Additionally, body mass index was generally high in patients from the Caribbean. 

In a study recently published in JAMA Network Open, investigators analyzed the rate of inherited breast and ovarian cancers in select countries within the Caribbean as a way to derive a better understanding of different disease variants region wide. Other baseline characteristics examined included age of menopause and menarche, as well as other fertility factors, Hurley says. Interestingly, family size markedly decreased and the age of first pregnancy significantly increased, Hurley says. All these factors are known to have an epidemiologic impact on the risk of developing breast cancer, Hurley explains. A change has taken place in moving from a third-world fertility pattern to a first-world fertility pattern, Hurley concludes.