ICGA Pilot Project on Breast Cancer


Large Scale Multi-omics Profiling of Breast Cancers

The breast cancer landscape in India diverges significantly from that of other developed or developing nations, particularly concerning its epidemiology, clinicopathology, and clinical management approaches. According to WHOGLOBOCAN data, breast cancer ranks as the most prevalent cancer in India. In 2022, India reported 192,020 new cases of breast cancer, constituting 26.6% of all cancer cases, along with 98,337 deaths, accounting for 13.7% of all cancer-related fatalities.

Despite affecting women across all socio-economic backgrounds, urban premenopausal women in their mid-forties appear to be at a heightened risk. The median age at first diagnosis in India falls between 40-45 years, predominantly among young, premenopausal women. This is concerning because breast cancer diagnosed at an early age tends to be more aggressive and carries a worse prognosis compared to cases diagnosed later in life. A lack of awareness among Indian women regarding disease symptoms, screening methods, such as self-breast examination and routine mammographic screening, has been attributed to negligence, high attrition rates to significant delays in diagnosis and treatment, thereby exacerbating costs.

The necessity for an India-based database to explore our breast cancers arises due to the lack of sufficient genomic insights for Indian patients and very limited representation in data from TCGA, UK Biobank etc. Given the diverse environmental, ethnic, and genetic makeup of the Indian population, it is imperative to gather data specific to this demographic. However, a systematic correlation between the unique characteristics of Indian breast cancers, including epidemiology, genetics, clinicopathology, and treatment outcomes, with their multi-omics profiles, has yet to be established.

As an initial pilot project, the ICGA has launched a large-scale multi-omics profiling initiative for Indian breast cancers, slated to continue for the next 2-3 years to fill in the gaps in knowledge about factors that contribute to the disease in our people.