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Metastatic breast cancer in a Nigerian tertiary hospital

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Background: Late presentation of breast carcinoma is common in resource-limited countries with attendant poor outcome. Objective: To describe the pattern of clinical presentation and challenges of treating patients presenting with metastatic breast carcinoma in a Nigerian hospital. Method: Clinical records of all patients who presented with metastatic breast carcinoma between January 1991 and December 2005 at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria were reviewed. Results: More than half of all histologically confirmed breast cancer patients seen within the study period presented with metastatic disease. Their ages ranged between 20-81years with a mean age of 45.9 years. Only 3% (6 of 202) were males. Twothirds had more than one secondary site on initial evaluation and the commonest sites were liver (63%), lung parenchyma (51%), pleura (26%) and contralateral breast in 25%. On immunohistochemistry, basal like tumours were found in 46.1%. Mastectomy was done in 37 patients with fungating breast masses while only one third of those referred to a nearby center for radiotherapy had it done. One year survival rate was 27%. Conclusion: Metastatic disease is common in Nigeria and treatment is limited due to resource limitations. Improved awareness of the disease is advocated to reduce late presentation.


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