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      Classical and Novel Prognostic Markers for Breast Cancer and their Clinical Significance

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          Abstract

          The use of biomarkers ensures breast cancer patients receive optimal treatment. Established biomarkers such as estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) have been playing significant roles in the selection and management of patients for endocrine therapy. HER2 is a strong predictor of response to trastuzumab. Recently, the roles of ER as a negative and HER2 as a positive indicator for chemotherapy have been established. Ki67 has traditionally been recognized as a poor prognostic factor, but recent studies suggest that measurement of Ki67-positive cells during treatment will more effectively predict treatment efficacy for both anti-hormonal and chemotherapy. p53 mutations are found in 20–35% of human breast cancers and are associated with aggressive disease with poor clinical outcome when the DNA-binding domain is mutated. The utility of cyclin D1 as a predictor of breast cancer prognosis is controversial, but cyclin D1b overexpression is associated with poor prognosis. Likewise, overexpression of the low molecular weight form of cyclin E1 protein predicts poor prognosis. Breast cancers from BRCA1/2 carriers often show high nuclear grades, negativity to ER/PR/HER2, and p53 mutations, and thus, are associated with poor prognosis. The prognostic values of other molecular markers, such as p14ARF, TBX2/3, VEGF in breast cancer are also discussed. Careful evaluation of these biomarkers with current treatment modality is required to determine whether their measurement or monitoring offer significant clinical benefits.

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          Most cited references 217

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          Molecular portraits of human breast tumours.

          Human breast tumours are diverse in their natural history and in their responsiveness to treatments. Variation in transcriptional programs accounts for much of the biological diversity of human cells and tumours. In each cell, signal transduction and regulatory systems transduce information from the cell's identity to its environmental status, thereby controlling the level of expression of every gene in the genome. Here we have characterized variation in gene expression patterns in a set of 65 surgical specimens of human breast tumours from 42 different individuals, using complementary DNA microarrays representing 8,102 human genes. These patterns provided a distinctive molecular portrait of each tumour. Twenty of the tumours were sampled twice, before and after a 16-week course of doxorubicin chemotherapy, and two tumours were paired with a lymph node metastasis from the same patient. Gene expression patterns in two tumour samples from the same individual were almost always more similar to each other than either was to any other sample. Sets of co-expressed genes were identified for which variation in messenger RNA levels could be related to specific features of physiological variation. The tumours could be classified into subtypes distinguished by pervasive differences in their gene expression patterns.
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            Use of chemotherapy plus a monoclonal antibody against HER2 for metastatic breast cancer that overexpresses HER2.

            The HER2 gene, which encodes the growth factor receptor HER2, is amplified and HER2 is overexpressed in 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers, increasing the aggressiveness of the tumor. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of trastuzumab, a recombinant monoclonal antibody against HER2, in women with metastatic breast cancer that overexpressed HER2. We randomly assigned 234 patients to receive standard chemotherapy alone and 235 patients to receive standard chemotherapy plus trastuzumab. Patients who had not previously received adjuvant (postoperative) therapy with an anthracycline were treated with doxorubicin (or epirubicin in the case of 36 women) and cyclophosphamide alone (138 women) or with trastuzumab (143 women). Patients who had previously received adjuvant anthracycline were treated with paclitaxel alone (96 women) or paclitaxel with trastuzumab (92 women). The addition of trastuzumab to chemotherapy was associated with a longer time to disease progression (median, 7.4 vs. 4.6 months; P<0.001), a higher rate of objective response (50 percent vs. 32 percent, P<0.001), a longer duration of response (median, 9.1 vs. 6.1 months; P<0.001), a lower rate of death at 1 year (22 percent vs. 33 percent, P=0.008), longer survival (median survival, 25.1 vs. 20.3 months; P=0.01), and a 20 percent reduction in the risk of death. The most important adverse event was cardiac dysfunction of New York Heart Association class III or IV, which occurred in 27 percent of the group given an anthracycline, cyclophosphamide, and trastuzumab; 8 percent of the group given an anthracycline and cyclophosphamide alone; 13 percent of the group given paclitaxel and trastuzumab; and 1 percent of the group given paclitaxel alone. Although the cardiotoxicity was potentially severe and, in some cases, life-threatening, the symptoms generally improved with standard medical management. Trastuzumab increases the clinical benefit of first-line chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer that overexpresses HER2.
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              Repeated observation of breast tumor subtypes in independent gene expression data sets.

              Characteristic patterns of gene expression measured by DNA microarrays have been used to classify tumors into clinically relevant subgroups. In this study, we have refined the previously defined subtypes of breast tumors that could be distinguished by their distinct patterns of gene expression. A total of 115 malignant breast tumors were analyzed by hierarchical clustering based on patterns of expression of 534 "intrinsic" genes and shown to subdivide into one basal-like, one ERBB2-overexpressing, two luminal-like, and one normal breast tissue-like subgroup. The genes used for classification were selected based on their similar expression levels between pairs of consecutive samples taken from the same tumor separated by 15 weeks of neoadjuvant treatment. Similar cluster analyses of two published, independent data sets representing different patient cohorts from different laboratories, uncovered some of the same breast cancer subtypes. In the one data set that included information on time to development of distant metastasis, subtypes were associated with significant differences in this clinical feature. By including a group of tumors from BRCA1 carriers in the analysis, we found that this genotype predisposes to the basal tumor subtype. Our results strongly support the idea that many of these breast tumor subtypes represent biologically distinct disease entities.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [1 ]The Departments of Pathology and
                [2 ]Cancer Biology
                [3 ]Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA
                Author notes
                Journal
                Clin Med Insights Oncol
                101467911
                Clinical Medicine Insights. Oncology
                Libertas Academica
                1179-5549
                20 April 2010
                2010
                : 4
                : 15-34
                2883240
                20567632
                cmo-2010-015
                © 2010 the author(s), publisher and licensee Libertas Academica Ltd.

                This is an open access article. Unrestricted non-commercial use is permitted provided the original work is properly cited.

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