Are Keloids Associated With Breast Cancer?


Keloids were associated with early, late stage breast cancer, particularly among African American patients, according the findings of a recent study.1

“It is well-documented that keloids and certain aggressive breast cancers, such as triple negative and inflammatory types, disproportionately affect African American women,” said principal investigator Lamont R Jones, MD, MBA, vice chair of the department of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI. “We need to better understand how immune-related differences, specific to African Americans, result in more aggressive types of cancer.”2
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In the retrospective cohort study, first author Melissa Davis, PhD, and colleagues reviewed 13,000 diagnosed cases of breast cancer between 2005 and 2015. They identified 247 cases that were keloid negative and 125 that were keloid positive. Epidemiological associations between breast cancer related clinical factors and keloid status were assessed among the 371 patients screened for keloids.

Davis et al found race-specific age associations among African American patients. Keloid positive African American patients were more likely to be younger at diagnosis compared with keloid negative patients (mean age 52 years vs mean age 57 years, respectively). Among European American patients, they did not observe any differences in age between keloid positive and keloid negative patients (mean age 57 years vs mean age 60 years). In addition, the researchers found significant differences in tumor staging.

“We found that keloid status of an individual may be indicative of a risk to be diagnosed with early onset, late staged breast cancer. We found that keloid status was a distinguishing factor among African American women, which may point to a pathological/molecular pathway that predicates their unique cancer risk,” Davis et al concluded.1 

“While the results of this study are preliminary, we believe further investigating a possible link between breast cancer and keloids may provide more insight,” Dr Jones added.2


1. Davis MB, Walton EM, Jenkins BD, et al. Keloid link to clinical outcomes in breast cancer: A potential link between ethnic variations in immune response and tumor behavior. Presented at: Triological Society’s Combined Section Meeting; January 24-26, 2019; Coronado, CA. 

2. Study: Keloids linked to early onset and late stage breast cancer [press release]. Detroit, MI: Henry Ford Health System; January 24, 2019. Accessed February 4, 2019.