Researchers say findings raise the possibility that African ancestry is tied to more aggressive tumours
The high death rate from breast cancer in the country has been linked to race in a study investigating how the genetic make-up of the Kenya woman contributes to the disease.
In findings presented on Sunday in the US, researchers for the first time compared the genetic profile of Kenyan women who have had breast cancer with samples from black American women and reported to have found interesting similarities.
This means that more white women are most likely to respond well to treatment and have higher survival rates.
According to the Nairobi Cancer Registry, women affected by breast cancer in Kenya are relatively younger than those in developed countries.
"Although cases remain relatively low in comparison to developed countries, breast cancer deaths in Kenya are much higher mainly because of late diagnosis:' Dr Ann Korir of the cancer registry says. For years, says the new study, poverty, ignorance, fewer and late testing, and lack of healthcare were believed to be responsible for these differences. "Now more specific research is showing that differences in ethnic biology may be the key to understanding why breast cancer incidence and rates of deaths differ!'
According to one of the researchers, Dr Lisa Baumbach-Reardon, this knowledge may lead to new preventive measures and treatment.
"Understanding significant ethnicity-specific differences will help us to better understand how and why breast cancer differs across different ethnicities and will ultimately help us to translate this knowledge into clinical practice:' Dr Baumbach- Reardon says.
According to the statement distributed by the science public relations firm “Newswise”, 47 breast cancer samples had been collected from the Nairobi Cancer Registry and compared with others from the University of Miami in the US.
After analysis, the researchers confirmed that 29 of the Kenyan cases were very similar to the presentation of African-American women with breast cancer in the United States.
According to the American Cancer Society, when discovered, African American breast cancers tend to respond more poorly to treatment than those of white women.
The situation in Kenya
. Cancer is the third-highest cause of death.
. Cancer causes seven per cent of total national deaths every year.
. About 28,000 cases are reported each year with over 22,000 deaths.
. Over 60 per cent of those affected are below the age of 70 years.
.The risk of getting cancer before the age of 75 years is 14 per cent.
. The risk of dying of cancer is estimated at 12 per cent.
. Leading cancers in women affect breast, oesophagus and cervix.
. In men, oesophagus and prostate cancers are the most common