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      A population-based study of tumor gene expression and risk of breast cancer death among lymph node-negative patients

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          The Oncotype DX assay was recently reported to predict risk for distant recurrence among a clinical trial population of tamoxifen-treated patients with lymph node-negative, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. To confirm and extend these findings, we evaluated the performance of this 21-gene assay among node-negative patients from a community hospital setting.


          A case-control study was conducted among 4,964 Kaiser Permanente patients diagnosed with node-negative invasive breast cancer from 1985 to 1994 and not treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. Cases ( n = 220) were patients who died from breast cancer. Controls ( n = 570) were breast cancer patients who were individually matched to cases with respect to age, race, adjuvant tamoxifen, medical facility and diagnosis year, and were alive at the date of death of their matched case. Using an RT-PCR assay, archived tumor tissues were analyzed for expression levels of 16 cancer-related and five reference genes, and a summary risk score (the Recurrence Score) was calculated for each patient. Conditional logistic regression methods were used to estimate the association between risk of breast cancer death and Recurrence Score.


          After adjusting for tumor size and grade, the Recurrence Score was associated with risk of breast cancer death in ER-positive, tamoxifen-treated and -untreated patients ( P = 0.003 and P = 0.03, respectively). At 10 years, the risks for breast cancer death in ER-positive, tamoxifen-treated patients were 2.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.7–3.9%), 10.7% (95% CI 6.3–14.9%), and 15.5% (95% CI 7.6–22.8%) for those in the low, intermediate and high risk Recurrence Score groups, respectively. They were 6.2% (95% CI 4.5–7.9%), 17.8% (95% CI 11.8–23.3%), and 19.9% (95% CI 14.2–25.2%) for ER-positive patients not treated with tamoxifen. In both the tamoxifen-treated and -untreated groups, approximately 50% of patients had low risk Recurrence Score values.


          In this large, population-based study of lymph node-negative patients not treated with chemotherapy, the Recurrence Score was strongly associated with risk of breast cancer death among ER-positive, tamoxifen-treated and -untreated patients.

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          Most cited references 48

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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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            Gene expression profiling predicts clinical outcome of breast cancer.

            Breast cancer patients with the same stage of disease can have markedly different treatment responses and overall outcome. The strongest predictors for metastases (for example, lymph node status and histological grade) fail to classify accurately breast tumours according to their clinical behaviour. Chemotherapy or hormonal therapy reduces the risk of distant metastases by approximately one-third; however, 70-80% of patients receiving this treatment would have survived without it. None of the signatures of breast cancer gene expression reported to date allow for patient-tailored therapy strategies. Here we used DNA microarray analysis on primary breast tumours of 117 young patients, and applied supervised classification to identify a gene expression signature strongly predictive of a short interval to distant metastases ('poor prognosis' signature) in patients without tumour cells in local lymph nodes at diagnosis (lymph node negative). In addition, we established a signature that identifies tumours of BRCA1 carriers. The poor prognosis signature consists of genes regulating cell cycle, invasion, metastasis and angiogenesis. This gene expression profile will outperform all currently used clinical parameters in predicting disease outcome. Our findings provide a strategy to select patients who would benefit from adjuvant therapy.
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              A gene-expression signature as a predictor of survival in breast cancer.

              A more accurate means of prognostication in breast cancer will improve the selection of patients for adjuvant systemic therapy. Using microarray analysis to evaluate our previously established 70-gene prognosis profile, we classified a series of 295 consecutive patients with primary breast carcinomas as having a gene-expression signature associated with either a poor prognosis or a good prognosis. All patients had stage I or II breast cancer and were younger than 53 years old; 151 had lymph-node-negative disease, and 144 had lymph-node-positive disease. We evaluated the predictive power of the prognosis profile using univariable and multivariable statistical analyses. Among the 295 patients, 180 had a poor-prognosis signature and 115 had a good-prognosis signature, and the mean (+/-SE) overall 10-year survival rates were 54.6+/-4.4 percent and 94.5+/-2.6 percent, respectively. At 10 years, the probability of remaining free of distant metastases was 50.6+/-4.5 percent in the group with a poor-prognosis signature and 85.2+/-4.3 percent in the group with a good-prognosis signature. The estimated hazard ratio for distant metastases in the group with a poor-prognosis signature, as compared with the group with the good-prognosis signature, was 5.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 2.9 to 9.0; P<0.001). This ratio remained significant when the groups were analyzed according to lymph-node status. Multivariable Cox regression analysis showed that the prognosis profile was a strong independent factor in predicting disease outcome. The gene-expression profile we studied is a more powerful predictor of the outcome of disease in young patients with breast cancer than standard systems based on clinical and histologic criteria. Copyright 2002 Massachusetts Medical Society

                Author and article information

                Breast Cancer Res
                Breast Cancer Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                31 May 2006
                : 8
                : 3
                : R25
                [1 ]Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California, USA
                [2 ]Genomic Health, Inc., Redwood City, California, USA
                [3 ]Permanente Medical Group Regional Laboratory, Kaiser Permanente, Berkeley, California, USA
                [4 ]Oncology, Kaiser Permanente, Vallejo, California, USA
                [5 ]USC Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA
                Copyright © 2006 Habel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Oncology & Radiotherapy


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