2Haematology and Immunology department, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria
Background:Breast cancer remains an important medical challenge, despite sustained global efforts at its prevention and control. Various factors are expressed in the serum during breast tumorigenesis, and can be of value in the surveillance of the disease. These serum bio-markers include pro-inflammatory cytokines, and cancer antigens. In our locality, there is scanty information on the value of these serum factors in screening and surveillance of breast cancer - hence the need for this study.
Methodology: A total of 42 females (mean age = 48.7+ 8.7yrs) with clinically and pathologically confirmed breast tumour were recruited, along with healthy age and sex-matched control subjects (mean age = 47.5+ 13.4yrs). Thirty two of the patients had malignant tumours, and were further grouped into early stage (12 patients) and advanced stage (20 patients). Serum from the patients and controls were assayed for pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1 and TNF-α) and cancer antigens (CA 15-3 and CA 27.29) on admission. Assays were carried out by immunoenzymatic methods. Questionnaires were used to obtain necessary information from the subjects.
Results: Results showed that in all stages of breast cancer, the mean serum levels of IL-1 as well as TNF-α were not significantly raised, compared with control subjects (P>0.05). On the contrary, serum levels of CA 27-29 increased significantly in early as well as advanced breast cancers, compared with the control group (P< 0.05); CA 15.3 did not show much promise. Results also showed that twenty five of the cases (78%) did not have any history of cancer in their families and that 20 (63%) of the cases had body mass index values suggestive of obesity (> 30kg/m2).
Conclusion: Results suggest that serum levels of CA 27-29 shows great potentials in the surveillance of breast cancer in our environment, and that IL-1 and TNF-α are of limited value in this regard. Based on our findings, it could also be concluded that cigarette smoking and social sophistication are not among the risk factors to cancer in this part of the world, contrary to the situation in the advanced parts of the world.