HER2+ breast cancer; Vietnamese; epidemiology; genetics


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Clinical Epidemiology | Oncology | Public Health | Translational Medical Research | Women's Health


BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is known to be a heterogeneous disease across women, and even within individual tumors. However, relatively little is known about heterogeneity across cultures. There has been some evidence to suggest that Asian women are more likely to have HER2+ breast cancer than their Caucasian counterparts.

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to further investigate the unique pattern of breast cancer incidence and subtype in the Vietnamese population.

METHODS: We retrospectively collected data on all Vietnamese women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at the Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center in Houston, Texas over a four year period. We recorded the subtype of breast cancer, tumor grade, age at diagnosis, and menopausal status for each woman. We then compared these characteristics between our population of Vietnamese breast cancer patients, and an ethnically diverse group of American women from the 2010 SEER registry.

RESULTS: We discovered that 15 of 33 Vietnamese patients diagnosed in our breast center had HER2 over-expressing breast cancer, resulting in a 45% rate of HER2 positivity. Compared with the 2010 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry data that encompasses 28% of all US breast cancer patients diagnosed that year, regardless of race, the Smith Clinic Vietnamese cohort had a statistically significant higher rate of HER2+ breast cancer, with an odds ratio of 4.7 (45% vs. 15%, p

CONCLUSIONS: Vietnamese breast cancer patients, especially those older than 50 years old, tend to have higher rates of HER2+ breast cancer than the general population. This unique pattern of breast cancer merits further study, as it may reflect a genetic mutation or environmental exposure which is more common among Vietnamese women.