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Open Access Research article

A profile of prognostic and molecular factors in European and Māori breast cancer patients

Gabi U Dachs1*, Maiko Kano1, Ekaterina Volkova1, Helen R Morrin12, Valerie CL Davey3, Gavin C Harris4, Michelle Cheale4, Christopher Frampton5, Margaret J Currie1, J Elisabeth Wells6 and Bridget A Robinson127

Author Affiliations

1 Angiogenesis and Cancer Research Group, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

2 Cancer Society Tissue Bank, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

3 Christchurch Breast Cancer Patient Register, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand

4 Anatomical Pathology, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand

5 Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

6 Public Health and General Practice, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

7 Oncology Services, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:543  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-543

Published: 10 October 2010



New Zealand Māori have a poorer outcome from breast cancer than non-Māori, yet prognostic data are sparse. The objective of this study was to quantify levels of prognostic factors in a cohort of self-declared Māori and European breast cancer patients from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Methods and Results

Clinicopathological and survival data from 337 consecutive breast cancer patients (27 Māori, 310 European) were evaluated. Fewer tumours were high grade in Māori women than European women (p = 0.027). No significant ethnic differences were detected for node status, tumour type, tumour size, human epidermal growth factor receptor, oestrogen and progesterone receptor (ER/PR) status, or survival.

In addition, tumour and serum samples from a sub-cohort of 14 Māori matched to 14 NZ European patients were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay for molecular prognostic factors. Significant correlations were detected between increased grade and increased levels of hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1α), glucose transporter-1 (GLUT-1), microvessel density (MVD) and cytokeratins CK5/6 (p < 0.05). High nodal status correlated with reduced carbonic anhydrase IX (CA-IX). Negative ER/PR status correlated with increased GLUT-1, CA-IX and MVD. Within the molecular factors, increased HIF-1α correlated with raised GLUT-1, MVD and CK5/6, and CK5/6 with GLUT-1 and MVD (p < 0.05). The small number of patients in this sub-cohort limited discrimination of ethnic differences.


In this Christchurch cohort of breast cancer patients, Māori women were no more likely than European women to have pathological or molecular factors predictive of poor prognosis. These data contrast with data from the North Island NZ, and suggest potential regional differences.