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Open Access Research article

Pathological features of Breast Cancer seen in Northwestern Tanzania: a nine years retrospective study

Peter F Rambau1*, Philipo L Chalya2, Mange M Manyama3 and Kahima J Jackson4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Box 1464 Mwanza, (Bugando Street) Postal code +255, Tanzania

2 Department of Surgery Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Box 1464 Mwanza, (Bugando Street) Postal code +255, Tanzania

3 Department of Anatomy Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Box 1464 Mwanza, (Bugando Street) Postal code +255, Tanzania

4 Department of Pathology Bugando Medical Center, Box 1370 Mwanza, (Bugando Street) Postal code +255, Tanzania

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:214  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-214

Published: 22 June 2011



Breast cancer is more common in Western Countries compared to African populations. However in African population, it appears that the disease tends to be more aggressive and occurring at a relatively young age at the time of presentation. The aim of this study was to describe the trend of Breast Cancer in Northwestern Tanzania.


This was a retrospective study which involved all cases of breast cancer diagnosed histologically at Bugando Medical Center from 2002 to 2010. Histological results and slides were retrieved from the records in the Pathology department, clinical information and demographic data for patients were retrieved from surgical wards and department of medical records. Histology slides were re-evaluated for the histological type, grade (By modified Bloom-Richardson score), and presence of necrosis and skin involvement. Data was entered and analyzed by SPSS computer software version 15.


There were 328 patients histologically confirmed to have breast cancer, the mean age at diagnosis was 48.7 years (+/- 13.1). About half of the patients (52.4%) were below 46 years of age, and this group of patients had significantly higher tendency for lymph node metastasis (p = 0.012). The tumor size ranged from 1 cm to 18 cm in diameter with average (mean) of 5.5 cm (+/- 2.5), and median size of 6 cm. Size of the tumor (above 6 cm in diameter) and presence of necrosis within the tumor was significantly associated with high rate of lymph node metastasis (p = 0.000). Of all patients, 64% were at clinical stage III (specifically IIIB) and 70.4% had lymph node metastasis at the time of diagnosis. Only 4.3% of the patients were in clinical stage I at the time of diagnosis. Majority of the patients had invasive ductal carcinoma (91.5%) followed by mucinous carcinoma (5.2%), Invasive lobular carcinoma (3%) and in situ ductal carcinoma (0.3%). In all patients, 185 (56.4%) had tumor with histological grade 3.


Breast cancer in this region show a trend towards relative young age at diagnosis with advanced stage at diagnosis and high rate of lymph node metastasis. Poor Referral system, lack of screening programs and natural aggressive biological behavior of tumor may contribute to advanced disease at the time of diagnosis.

Breast Cancer; North Western Tanzania