Background There are large differences in socioeconomic growth within the region of South East Asia, leading to sharp contrasts in health-systems development between countries. This study compares breast cancer presentation and outcome between patients from a high income country (Singapore) and a middle income country (Malaysia) in South East Asia. Methods Within the Singapore Malaysia Breast Cancer Registry we identified all consecutive patients diagnosed with breast cancer between 1993 and 2007 at the National University Hospital in Singapore (high income country, n = 2,141) and the University of Malaya Medical Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (middle income country, n = 3,320). We compared demographics, tumor characteristics, treatment patterns, and survival between patients from both countries. Results In Malaysia, patients were less often diagnosed with in situ breast cancer (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj] 0.2; 95 % confidence interval [95 % CI] 0.1-0.3), more likely to be diagnosed with late stage (III and IV) disease (ORadj for stage III 1.6; 95 % CI 1.3-2.0; ORadj for stage IV 1.2; 95 % CI 1.1-1.4) as compared to patients from Singapore. Univariate analysis showed that Malaysian patients were at a 72 % increased risk of death as compared to Singaporeans. After adjusting for other prognostic factors, the risk decreased by only 5 % (ORadj 1.67, 95 % CI 1.44-1.92).
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