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1.  Subtype classification for prediction of prognosis of breast cancer from a biomarker panel: correlations and indications 
Background
Hormone receptors, including the estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and other biomarkers like Ki67, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, also known as HER1), the androgen receptor, and p53, are key molecules in breast cancer. This study evaluated the relationship between HER2 and hormone receptors and explored the additional prognostic value of Ki67, EGFR, the androgen receptor, and p53.
Methods
Quantitative determination of HER2 and EGFR was performed in 240 invasive breast cancer tissue microarray specimens using quantum dot (QD)-based nanotechnology. We identified two subtypes of HER2, ie, high total HER2 load (HTH2) and low total HER2 load (LTH2), and three subtypes of hormone receptor, ie, high hormone receptor (HHR), low hormone receptor (LHR), and no hormone receptor (NHR). Therefore, breast cancer patients could be divided into five subtypes according to HER2 and hormone receptor status. Ki67, p53, and the androgen receptor were determined by traditional immunohistochemistry techniques. The relationship between hormone receptors and HER2 was investigated and the additional value of Ki67, EGFR, the androgen receptor, and p53 for prediction of 5-year disease-free survival was assessed.
Results
In all patients, quantitative determination showed a statistically significant (P<0.001) negative correlation between HER2 and the hormone receptors and a significant positive correlation (P<0.001) between the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor (r=0.588), but a significant negative correlation (P<0.001, r=−0.618) with the HHR subtype. There were significant differences between the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2 subtypes with regard to total HER2 load and hormone receptor subtypes. The rates of androgen receptor and p53 positivity were 46.3% and 57.0%, respectively. Other than the androgen receptor, differences in expression of Ki67, EGFR, and p53 did not achieve statistical significance (P>0.05) between the five subtypes. EGFR and Ki67 had prognostic significance for 5-year disease-free survival in univariate analysis, but the androgen receptor and p53 did not. Multivariate analysis identified that EGFR expression had predictive significance for 5-year disease-free survival in hormone-receptor positive patients and in those with the lymph node-positive breast cancer subtype.
Conclusion
Hormone receptor expression was indeed one of the molecular profiles in the subtypes identified by quantitative HER2 and vice versa. EGFR status may provide discriminative prognostic information in addition to HER2 and hormone receptor status, and should be integrated into routine practice to help formulate more specific prediction of the prognosis and appropriate individualized treatment.
doi:10.2147/IJN.S58270
PMCID: PMC3937188  PMID: 24591826
quantum dots; breast cancer; molecular classification; prognosis; prediction
2.  Exploring the spatial dimension of estrogen and progesterone signaling: detection of nuclear labeling in lobular epithelial cells in normal mammary glands adjacent to breast cancer 
Diagnostic Pathology  2014;9(Suppl 1):S11.
Background
Comprehensive spatial assessment of hormone receptor immunohistochemistry staining in digital whole slide images of breast cancer requires accurate detection of positive nuclei within biologically relevant regions of interest. Herein, we propose a combination of automated region labeling at low resolution and subsequent detailed tissue evaluation of subcellular structures in lobular structures adjacent to breast cancer, as a proof of concept for the approach to analyze estrogen and progesterone receptor expression in the spatial context of surrounding tissue.
Methods
Routinely processed paraffin sections of hormone receptor-negative ductal invasive breast cancer were stained for estrogen and progesterone receptor by immunohistochemistry. Digital whole slides were analyzed using commercially available image analysis software for advanced object-based analysis, applying textural, relational, and geometrical features. Mammary gland lobules were targeted as regions of interest for analysis at subcellular level in relation to their distance from coherent tumor as neighboring relevant tissue compartment. Lobule detection quality was evaluated visually by a pathologist.
Results
After rule set optimization in an estrogen receptor-stained training set, independent test sets (progesterone and estrogen receptor) showed acceptable detection quality in 33% of cases. Presence of disrupted lobular structures, either by brisk inflammatory infiltrate, or diffuse tumor infiltration, was common in cases with lower detection accuracy. Hormone receptor detection tended towards higher percentage of positively stained nuclei in lobules distant from the tumor border as compared to areas adjacent to the tumor. After adaptations of image analysis, corresponding evaluations were also feasible in hormone receptor positive breast cancer, with some limitations of automated separation of mammary epithelial cells from hormone receptor-positive tumor cells.
Conclusions
As a proof of concept for object-oriented detection of steroid hormone receptors in their spatial context, we show that lobular structures can be classified based on texture-based image features, unless brisk inflammatory infiltration disrupts the normal morphological structure of the tubular gland epithelium. We consider this approach as prototypic for detection and spatial analysis of nuclear markers in defined regions of interest. We conclude that advanced image analysis at this level of complexity requires adaptation to the individual tumor phenotypes and morphological characteristics of the tumor environment.
doi:10.1186/1746-1596-9-S1-S11
PMCID: PMC4305969  PMID: 25565114
3.  Association between Melanocytic Nevi and Risk of Breast Diseases: The French E3N Prospective Cohort 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001660.
Using data from the French E3N prospective cohort, Marina Kvaskoff and colleagues examine the association between number of cutaneous nevi and the risk for breast cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
While melanocytic nevi have been associated with genetic factors and childhood sun exposure, several observations also suggest a potential hormonal influence on nevi. To test the hypothesis that nevi are associated with breast tumor risk, we explored the relationships between number of nevi and benign and malignant breast disease risk.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively analyzed data from E3N, a cohort of French women aged 40–65 y at inclusion in 1990. Number of nevi was collected at inclusion. Hazard ratios (HRs) for breast cancer and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression models. Associations of number of nevi with personal history of benign breast disease (BBD) and family history of breast cancer were estimated using logistic regression. Over the period 15 June 1990–15 June 2008, 5,956 incident breast cancer cases (including 5,245 invasive tumors) were ascertained among 89,902 women. In models adjusted for age, education, and known breast cancer risk factors, women with “very many” nevi had a significantly higher breast cancer risk (HR = 1.13, 95% CI = 1.01–1.27 versus “none”; ptrend = 0.04), although significance was lost after adjustment for personal history of BBD or family history of breast cancer. The 10-y absolute risk of invasive breast cancer increased from 3,749 per 100,000 women without nevi to 4,124 (95% CI = 3,674–4,649) per 100,000 women with “very many” nevi. The association was restricted to premenopausal women (HR = 1.40, ptrend = 0.01), even after full adjustment (HR = 1.34, ptrend = 0.03; phomogeneity = 0.04), but did not differ according to breast cancer type or hormone receptor status. In addition, we observed significantly positive dose–response relationships between number of nevi and history of biopsy-confirmed BBD (n = 5,169; ptrend<0.0001) and family history of breast cancer in first-degree relatives (n = 7,472; ptrend = 0.0003). The main limitations of our study include self-report of number of nevi using a qualitative scale, and self-reported history of biopsied BBD.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest associations between number of nevi and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer, BBD, and family history of breast cancer. More research is warranted to elucidate these relationships and to understand their underlying mechanisms.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2012, nearly 1.7 million women worldwide discovered they had breast cancer, and about half a million women died from the disease. Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast acquire genetic changes that allow them to divide uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). Uncontrolled cell division leads to the formation of a lump that can be detected by mammography (a breast X-ray) or by manual breast examination. Breast cancer is treated by surgical removal of the lump, or, if the cancer has started to spread, by removal of the whole breast (mastectomy). Surgery is usually followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. Because the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of some tumors, drugs that block hormone receptors are also used to treat receptor-positive breast cancer. Nowadays, the prognosis (outlook) for women with breast cancer is good, and in developed countries, nearly 90% of affected women are still alive five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several hormone-related factors affect a woman's chances of developing breast cancer. For example, women who have no children or who have them late in life have a higher breast cancer risk than women who have several children when they are young because pregnancy alters sex hormone levels. Interestingly, the development of moles (nevi)—dark skin blemishes that are risk factors for the development of melanoma, a type of skin cancer—may also be affected by estrogen and progesterone. Thus, the number of nevi might be a marker of blood hormone levels and might predict breast cancer risk. In this prospective cohort study, the researchers test this hypothesis by investigating the association between how many moles a woman has and her breast cancer risk. A prospective cohort study enrolls a group (cohort) of people, determines their baseline characteristics, and follows them over time to see which characteristics are associated with the development of specific diseases.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In 1990, the E3N prospective cohort study enrolled nearly 100,000 French women (mainly school teachers) aged 40–65 years to investigate cancer risk factors. The women completed a baseline questionnaire about their lifestyle and medical history, and regular follow-up questionnaires that asked about cancer occurrence. In the initial questionnaire, the women indicated whether they had no, a few, many, or very many moles. Between 1990 and 2008, nearly 6,000 women in the cohort developed breast cancer. Using statistical methods to calculate hazard ratios (an “HR” compares how often a particular event happens in two groups with different characteristics; an HR greater than one indicates that a specific characteristic is associated with an increased risk of the event), the researchers report that women with “very many” nevi had a significantly higher breast cancer risk (a higher risk that was unlikely to have occurred by chance) than women with no nevi. Specifically, the age-adjusted HR for breast cancer among women with “very many” nevi compared to women with no nevi was 1.17. After adjustment for a personal history of benign (noncancerous) breast disease and a family history of breast cancer (two established risk factors for breast cancer), the association between nevi and breast cancer risk among the whole cohort became nonsignificant. Notably, however, the association among only premenopausal women remained significant after full adjustment (HR = 1.34), which corresponded to an increase in ten-year absolute risk of invasive breast cancer from 2,515 per 100,000 women with no nevi to 3,370 per 100,000 women with “very many” nevi.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that among premenopausal women there is a modest association between nevi number and breast cancer risk. This noncausal relationship may indicate that nevi and breast diseases are affected in similar ways by hormones or share common genetic factors, but the accuracy of these findings may be limited by aspects of the study design. For example, self-report of nevi numbers using a qualitative scale may have introduced some inaccuracies into the estimates of the association between nevi number and breast cancer risk. Most importantly, these findings are insufficient to support the use of nevi counts in breast cancer screening or diagnosis. Rather, together with the findings reported by Zhang et al. in an independent PLOS Medicine Research Article, they suggest that further studies into the biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between nevi and breast cancer and the association itself should be undertaken.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001660.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Fuhrman and Cardenas
An independent PLOS Medicine Research Article by Zhang et al. also investigates the relationship between nevi number and breast cancer risk
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information for patients and professionals about breast cancer; it also has a fact sheet on moles
Cancer Research UK, a not-for profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer; the not-for profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer
More information about the E3N prospective cohort study is available; detailed information is available in French
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001660
PMCID: PMC4051602  PMID: 24915306
4.  Association between Cutaneous Nevi and Breast Cancer in the Nurses' Health Study: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001659.
Using data from the Nurses' Health Study, Jiali Han and colleagues examine the association between number of cutaneous nevi and the risk for breast cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Cutaneous nevi are suggested to be hormone-related. We hypothesized that the number of cutaneous nevi might be a phenotypic marker of plasma hormone levels and predict subsequent breast cancer risk.
Methods and Findings
We followed 74,523 female nurses for 24 y (1986–2010) in the Nurses' Health Study and estimate the relative risk of breast cancer according to the number of cutaneous nevi. We adjusted for the known breast cancer risk factors in the models. During follow-up, a total of 5,483 invasive breast cancer cases were diagnosed. Compared to women with no nevi, women with more cutaneous nevi had higher risks of breast cancer (multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio, 1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98–1.10 for 1–5 nevi; 1.15, 95% CI, 1.00–1.31 for 6–14 nevi, and 1.35, 95% CI, 1.04–1.74 for 15 or more nevi; p for continuous trend = 0.003). Over 24 y of follow-up, the absolute risk of developing breast cancer increased from 8.48% for women without cutaneous nevi to 8.82% (95% CI, 8.31%–9.33%) for women with 1–5 nevi, 9.75% (95% CI, 8.48%–11.11%) for women with 6–14 nevi, and 11.4% (95% CI, 8.82%–14.76%) for women with 15 or more nevi. The number of cutaneous nevi was associated with increased risk of breast cancer only among estrogen receptor (ER)–positive tumors (multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio per five nevi, 1.09, 95% CI, 1.02–1.16 for ER+/progesterone receptor [PR]–positive tumors; 1.08, 95% CI, 0.94–1.24 for ER+/PR− tumors; and 0.99, 95% CI, 0.86–1.15 for ER−/PR− tumors). Additionally, we tested plasma hormone levels according to the number of cutaneous nevi among a subgroup of postmenopausal women without postmenopausal hormone use (n = 611). Postmenopausal women with six or more nevi had a 45.5% higher level of free estradiol and a 47.4% higher level of free testosterone compared to those with no nevi (p for trend = 0.001 for both). Among a subgroup of 362 breast cancer cases and 611 matched controls with plasma hormone measurements, the multivariable-adjusted odds ratio for every five nevi attenuated from 1.25 (95% CI, 0.89–1.74) to 1.16 (95% CI, 0.83–1.64) after adjusting for plasma hormone levels. Key limitations in this study are that cutaneous nevi were self-counted in our cohort and that the study was conducted in white individuals, and thus the findings do not necessarily apply to other populations.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that the number of cutaneous nevi may reflect plasma hormone levels and predict breast cancer risk independently of previously known factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
One woman in eight will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast acquire genetic changes that allow them to divide uncontrollably (which leads to the formation of a lump in the breast) and to move around the body (metastasize). The treatment of breast cancer, which is diagnosed using mammography (a breast X-ray) or manual breast examination and biopsy, usually involves surgery to remove the lump, or the whole breast (mastectomy) if the cancer has started to metastasize. After surgery, women often receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells and may also be given drugs that block the action of estrogen and progesterone, female sex hormones that stimulate the growth of some breast cancer cells. Globally, half a million women die from breast cancer each year. However, in developed countries, nearly 90% of women affected by breast cancer are still alive five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several sex hormone–related factors affect breast cancer risk, including at what age a woman has her first child (pregnancy alters sex hormone levels) and her age at menopause, when estrogen levels normally drop. Moreover, postmenopausal women with high circulating levels of estrogen and testosterone (a male sex hormone) have an increased breast cancer risk. Interestingly, moles (nevi)—dark skin blemishes that are a risk factor for the development of melanoma, a type of skin cancer—often darken or enlarge during pregnancy. Might the number of nevi be a marker of hormone levels, and could nevi counts therefore be used to predict an individual's risk of breast cancer? In this prospective cohort study, the researchers look for an association between number of nevi and breast cancer risk among participants in the US Nurses' Health Study (NHS). A prospective cohort study enrolls a group of people, determines their baseline characteristics, and follows them over time to see which characteristics are associated with the development of certain diseases. The NHS, which enrolled 121,700 female nurses aged 30–55 years in 1976, is studying risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases in women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In 1986, nearly 75,000 NHS participants (all of whom were white) reported how many nevi they had on their left arm. Over the next 24 years, 5,483 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in these women. Compared to women with no nevi, women with increasing numbers of nevi had a higher risk of breast cancer after adjustment for known breast cancer risk factors. Specifically, among women with 1–5 nevi, the hazard ratio (HR) for breast cancer was 1.04, whereas among women with 15 or more nevi the HR was 1.35. An HR compares how often a particular event occurs in two groups with different characteristics; an HR greater than one indicates that a specific characteristic is associated with an increased risk of the event. Over 24 years of follow-up, the absolute risk of developing breast cancer was 8.48% in women with no nevi but 11.4% for women with 15 or more nevi. Notably, postmenopausal women with six or more nevi had higher blood levels of estrogen and testosterone than women with no nevi. Finally, in a subgroup analysis, the association between number of nevi and breast cancer risk disappeared after adjustment for hormone levels.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings support the hypothesis that the number of nevi reflects sex hormone levels in women and may predict breast cancer risk. Notably, they show that the association between breast cancer risk and nevus number was independent of known risk factors for breast cancer, and that the risk of breast cancer increased with the number of nevi in a dose-dependent manner. These findings also suggest that a hormonal mechanism underlies the association between nevus number and breast cancer risk. Because this study involved only white participants, these findings may not apply to non-white women. Moreover, the use of self-reported data on nevus numbers may affect the accuracy of these findings. Finally, because this study is observational, these findings are insufficient to support any changes in clinical recommendations for breast cancer screening or diagnosis. Nevertheless, these data and those in an independent PLOS Medicine Research Article by Kvaskoff et al. support the need for further investigation of the association between nevi and breast cancer risk and of the mechanisms underlying this relationship.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001659.
An independent PLOS Medicine Research Article by Kvaskoff et al. also investigates the relationship between nevi and breast cancer risk
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information for patients and professionals about breast cancer; it also has a fact sheet on moles
Cancer Research UK, a not-for profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer; the not-for profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer
More information about the Nurses' Health Study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001659
PMCID: PMC4051600  PMID: 24915186
5.  Clinical impact of detection of loss of heterozygosity of BRCA1 and BRCA2 markers in sporadic breast cancer. 
British Journal of Cancer  1996;73(10):1220-1226.
The development of familial and sporadic breast cancer is based on genetic alterations of tumour-suppressor genes, for which loss of heterozygosity (LOH) is one mechanism of gene inactivation. To investigate LOH of BRCA1 (17q21) and BRCA2 (13-q12-13) in sporadic breast cancer, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based fluorescent DNA technology for detection of microsatellite polymorphisms was applied. A total of 137 breast cancer and 15 benign breast specimens with matched normal tissue were examined. Fluorescent-labelled PCR products were analysed in an automated DNA sequencer (ALFTM Pharmacia). Losses at both loci were correlated with different histological types, age, tumour size, lymph node status, grading and steroid hormone receptor expression, [SHR: oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR)]. For BRCA1 (D17S855, THRA1, D17S579) losses could be detected in invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC; n = 108) in 32-38%, invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC; n = 19) in 21-42% depending on the marker applied, but not in benign breast tumours (n = 15). Losses of BRCA1 markers correlated with larger tumour size, higher grade, and PgR expression. For BRCA2 (D13S260, D13S267, D13S171) losses could be detected in 108 IDCs in 30-38%, in 19 ILCs in 17-39% depending on the marker applied, but not in benign breast tumours. Losses of BRCA2 markers correlated only with higher grade. Microsatellite analyses combined with detection of fluorescent-labelled PCR products by an automated laser DNA sequencer can be used for routine determination of LOH. In sporadic breast cancer, LOH of BRCA1 of BRCA2 does not add decisive prognostic value as stated for familial breast cancer.
Images
PMCID: PMC2074503  PMID: 8630282
6.  Receptor-Defined Subtypes of Breast Cancer in Indigenous Populations in Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001720.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Isabel dos Santos Silva and colleagues estimate the prevalence of receptor-defined subtypes of breast cancer in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in Africa. Receptor-defined subtypes are a major determinant of treatment options and disease outcomes but there is considerable uncertainty regarding the frequency of poor prognosis estrogen receptor (ER) negative subtypes in Africa. We systematically reviewed publications reporting on the frequency of breast cancer receptor-defined subtypes in indigenous populations in Africa.
Methods and Findings
Medline, Embase, and Global Health were searched for studies published between 1st January 1980 and 15th April 2014. Reported proportions of ER positive (ER+), progesterone receptor positive (PR+), and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 positive (HER2+) disease were extracted and 95% CI calculated. Random effects meta-analyses were used to pool estimates. Fifty-four studies from North Africa (n = 12,284 women with breast cancer) and 26 from sub-Saharan Africa (n = 4,737) were eligible. There was marked between-study heterogeneity in the ER+ estimates in both regions (I2>90%), with the majority reporting proportions between 0.40 and 0.80 in North Africa and between 0.20 and 0.70 in sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, large between-study heterogeneity was observed for PR+ and HER2+ estimates (I2>80%, in all instances). Meta-regression analyses showed that the proportion of ER+ disease was 10% (4%–17%) lower for studies based on archived tumor blocks rather than prospectively collected specimens, and 9% (2%–17%) lower for those with ≥40% versus those with <40% grade 3 tumors. For prospectively collected samples, the pooled proportions for ER+ and triple negative tumors were 0.59 (0.56–0.62) and 0.21 (0.17–0.25), respectively, regardless of region. Limitations of the study include the lack of standardized procedures across the various studies; the low methodological quality of many studies in terms of the representativeness of their case series and the quality of the procedures for collection, fixation, and receptor testing; and the possibility that women with breast cancer may have contributed to more than one study.
Conclusions
The published data from the more appropriate prospectively measured specimens are consistent with the majority of breast cancers in Africa being ER+. As no single subtype dominates in the continent availability of receptor testing should be a priority, especially for young women with early stage disease where appropriate receptor-specific treatment modalities offer the greatest potential for reducing years of life lost.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Breast cancer is the commonest female tumor in Africa and death rates from the disease in some African countries are among the highest in the world. Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast acquire genetic changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. When a breast lump is found (by mammography or manual examination), a few cells are collected from the lump (a biopsy) to look for abnormal cells and to test for the presence of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) on the cells. The hormones estrogen and progesterone promote the growth of normal breast cells and of ER+ and PR+ breast cancer cells. HER2 also controls the growth of breast cells. The receptor status of breast cancer is a major determinant of treatment options and prognosis (likely outcome). ER+ tumors, for example, are more receptive to hormonal therapy and have a better prognosis than ER− tumors, whereas HER2+ tumors, which make large amounts of HER2, are more aggressive than HER2− tumors. Breast cancer is treated by surgically removing the lump or the whole breast (mastectomy) if the tumor has already spread, before killing any remaining cancer cells with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In addition, ER+, PR+, and HER2+ tumors are treated with drugs that block these receptors (including tamoxifen and trastuzumab), thereby slowing breast cancer growth.
Why Was This Study Done?
ER+ tumors predominate in white women but the proportion of ER+ tumors among US-born black women is slightly lower. The frequency of different receptor-defined subtypes of breast cancer in indigenous populations in Africa is currently unclear but policy makers need this information to help them decide whether routine receptor status testing should be introduced across Africa. Because receptor status is a major determination of treatment options and outcomes, it would be more important to introduce receptor testing if all subtypes are present in breast cancers in indigenous African women and if no one subtype dominates than if most breast cancers in these women are ER+. In this systematic review (a study that uses pre-defined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and meta-analysis (a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies), the researchers examine the distribution of receptor-defined breast cancer subtypes in indigenous populations in Africa.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 54 relevant studies from North Africa involving 12,284 women with breast cancer (mainly living in Egypt or Tunisia) and 26 studies from sub-Saharan Africa involving 4,737 women with breast cancer (mainly living in Nigeria or South Africa) and used the data from these studies to calculate the proportions of ER+, PR+, and HER2+ tumors (the number of receptor-positive tumors divided by the number of tumors with known receptor status) across Africa. The proportion of ER+ tumors varied markedly between studies, ranging between 0.40 and 0.80 in North Africa and between 0.20 and 0.70 in sub-Saharan Africa. Among prospectively collected samples (samples collected specifically for receptor-status testing; studies that determined the receptor status of breast cancers using stored samples reported a lower proportion of ER+ disease than studies that used prospectively collected samples), the overall pooled proportions of ER+ and triple negative tumors were 0.59 and 0.21, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although these findings highlight the scarcity of data on hormone receptor and HER2 status in breast cancers in indigenous African populations, they provide new information about the distribution of breast cancer subtypes in Africa. Specifically, these findings suggest that although slightly more than half of breast cancers in Africa are ER+, no single subtype dominates. They also suggest that the distribution of receptor-defined breast cancer subtypes in Africa is similar to that found in Western populations. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by the low methodological quality of many of the studies and the lack of standardized procedures. Thus, large well-designed studies are still needed to accurately quantify the distribution of various breast cancer subtypes across Africa. In the meantime, the current findings support the introduction of routine receptor testing across Africa, especially for young women with early stage breast cancer in whom the potential to improve survival and reduce the years of life lost by knowing the receptor status of an individual's tumor is greatest.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001720.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Sulma i Mohammed
The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information for patients and professionals about breast cancer including an online booklet for patients
Cancer Research UK, a not-for profit organization, provides information about cancer; its detailed information about breast cancer includes sections on tests for hormone receptors and HER2 and on treatments that target hormone receptors and treatments that target HER2
Breastcancer.org is a not-for-profit organization that provides up-to-date information about breast cancer (in English and Spanish), including information on hormone receptor status and HER2 status
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer; the not-for profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001720
PMCID: PMC4159229  PMID: 25202974
7.  Subtyping of Breast Cancer by Immunohistochemistry to Investigate a Relationship between Subtype and Short and Long Term Survival: A Collaborative Analysis of Data for 10,159 Cases from 12 Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000279.
Paul Pharoah and colleagues evaluate the prognostic significance of immunohistochemical subtype classification in more than 10,000 breast cancer cases with early disease, and examine the influence of a patient's survival time on the prediction of future survival.
Background
Immunohistochemical markers are often used to classify breast cancer into subtypes that are biologically distinct and behave differently. The aim of this study was to estimate mortality for patients with the major subtypes of breast cancer as classified using five immunohistochemical markers, to investigate patterns of mortality over time, and to test for heterogeneity by subtype.
Methods and Findings
We pooled data from more than 10,000 cases of invasive breast cancer from 12 studies that had collected information on hormone receptor status, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) status, and at least one basal marker (cytokeratin [CK]5/6 or epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]) together with survival time data. Tumours were classified as luminal and nonluminal tumours according to hormone receptor expression. These two groups were further subdivided according to expression of HER2, and finally, the luminal and nonluminal HER2-negative tumours were categorised according to expression of basal markers. Changes in mortality rates over time differed by subtype. In women with luminal HER2-negative subtypes, mortality rates were constant over time, whereas mortality rates associated with the luminal HER2-positive and nonluminal subtypes tended to peak within 5 y of diagnosis and then decline over time. In the first 5 y after diagnosis the nonluminal tumours were associated with a poorer prognosis, but over longer follow-up times the prognosis was poorer in the luminal subtypes, with the worst prognosis at 15 y being in the luminal HER2-positive tumours. Basal marker expression distinguished the HER2-negative luminal and nonluminal tumours into different subtypes. These patterns were independent of any systemic adjuvant therapy.
Conclusions
The six subtypes of breast cancer defined by expression of five markers show distinct behaviours with important differences in short term and long term prognosis. Application of these markers in the clinical setting could have the potential to improve the targeting of adjuvant chemotherapy to those most likely to benefit. The different patterns of mortality over time also suggest important biological differences between the subtypes that may result in differences in response to specific therapies, and that stratification of breast cancers by clinically relevant subtypes in clinical trials is urgently required.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Each year, more than one million women discover they have breast cancer. Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast's milk-producing glands or in the tubes (ducts) that take milk to the nipples acquire genetic changes that allow them to divide uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). The uncontrolled cell division leads to the formation of a lump that can be detected by mammography (a breast X-ray) or by manual breast examination. Breast cancer is treated by surgical removal of the lump or, if the cancer has started to spread, by removal of the whole breast (mastectomy). Surgery is usually followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. These “adjuvant” therapies are designed to kill any remaining cancer cells but can make women very ill. Generally speaking, the outlook (prognosis) for women with breast cancer is good. In the United States, for example, nearly 90% of affected women are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because there are several types of cells in the milk ducts and glands, there are several subtypes of breast cancer. Luminal tumors, for example, begin in the cells that line the ducts and glands and usually grow slowly; basal-type tumors arise in deeper layers of the ducts and glands and tend to grow quickly. Clinicians need to distinguish between different breast cancer subtypes so that they can give women a realistic prognosis and can give adjuvant treatments to those women who are most likely to benefit. One way to distinguish between different subtypes is to stain breast cancer samples using antibodies (immune system proteins) that recognize particular proteins (antigens). This “immunohistochemical” approach can identify several breast cancer subtypes but its prognostic value and the best way to classify breast tumors remains unclear. In this study, the researchers investigate the survival over time of women with six major subtypes of breast cancer classified using five immunohistochemical markers: the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor (two hormone receptors expressed by luminal cells), the human epidermal growth factors receptor-2 (HER2, a protein marker used to select specific adjuvant therapies), and CK5/6 and EGFR (proteins expressed by basal cells).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pooled data on survival time and on the expression of the five immunohistochemical markers from more than 10,000 cases of breast cancer from 12 studies. They then divided the tumors into six subtypes on the basis of their marker expression: luminal (hormone receptor-positive), HER2-positive tumors; luminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-positive tumors; luminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-negative tumors; nonluminal (hormone receptor-negative), HER2-positive tumors; nonluminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-positive tumors; and nonluminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-negative tumors. In the first five years after diagnosis, women with nonluminal tumor subtypes had the worst prognosis but at 15 years after diagnosis, women with luminal HER2-positive tumors had the worst prognosis. Furthermore, death rates (the percentage of affected women dying each year) differed by subtype over time. Thus, women with the two luminal HER2-negative subtypes were as likely to die soon after diagnosis as at later times whereas the death rates associated with nonluminal subtypes peaked within five years of diagnosis and then declined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings indicate that the six subtypes of breast cancer defined by the expression of five immunohistochemical markers have distinct biological characteristics that are associated with important differences in short-term and long-term outcomes. Because different laboratories measured the immunohistochemical markers using different methods, it is possible that some of the tumors included in this study were misclassified. However, the finding of clear differences in the behavior of the immunochemically classified subtypes suggests that the use of the five markers for tumor classification might be robust enough for routine clinical practice. The application of these markers in the clinical setting, suggest the researchers, could improve the targeting of adjuvant therapies to those women most likely to benefit. Furthermore, note the researchers, these findings strongly suggest that subtype-specific responses should be evaluated in future clinical trials of treatments for breast cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000279.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Stefan Ambs
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of breast cancer (in English and Spanish)
The American Cancer Society has a detailed guide to breast cancer, which includes information on the immunochemical classification of breast cancer subtypes
The UK charities MacMillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK also provide detailed information about breast cancer
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information for patients about breast cancer; Medline Plus provides links to many other breast cancer resources (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000279
PMCID: PMC2876119  PMID: 20520800
8.  Comparison of the Characteristics of Medullary Breast Carcinoma and Invasive Ductal Carcinoma 
Journal of Breast Cancer  2013;16(4):417-425.
Purpose
Medullary breast carcinomas (MBC) have been known to represent a rare breast cancer subtype associated with a more favorable prognosis than invasive ductal carcinomas (IDC). The purpose of this study was to compare the clinicopathologic characteristics and outcomes of MBC with those of IDC.
Methods
We retrospectively reviewed medical records of patients with invasive breast cancer who were managed surgically from August 1995 to June 2010.
Results
Fifty-two patients were identified with MBC and 5,716 patients were identified with IDC. The clinicopathologic features, disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS) of patients with MBC were compared with those of patients with IDC. The MBC group presented at a younger age (p=0.005) and had a significant association with a higher histological grade (p=0.003) and nuclear grade (p<0.001) as well as negative estrogen receptor (p<0.001) and progesterone receptor (p<0.001) status. Lymphatic invasion was absent (p<0.001) and lymph node metastasis was rare (p<0.001). The DFS and OS did not differ significantly between the two groups (5-year DFS: 88.0% vs. 89.2%, p=0.920; 5-year OS: 93.4% vs. 94.4%, p=0.503). In multivariate analysis, the factors associated with DFS and OS were nuclear grade, histological grade, tumor size, lymph node metastasis, estrogen receptor status, progesterone receptor status, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. However, DFS and OS were not significantly different between IDC and MBC according to histological type itself (DFS: hazard ratio 0.85, 95% confidence interval 0.12-6.05, p=0.866; OS: hazard ratio 1.49, 95% confidence interval 0.21-10.77, p=0.692).
Conclusion
Although MBC has specific clinicopathologic features, its prognosis does not differ from IDC and is determined by prognostic factors such as tumor size and lymph node metastasis. Therefore, patients with MBC also require the same intensive treatment provided for IDC.
doi:10.4048/jbc.2013.16.4.417
PMCID: PMC3893344  PMID: 24454464
Breast neoplasms; Lymphatic metastasis; Medullary carcinoma; Prognosis
9.  Polymorphic repeat in AIB1 does not alter breast cancer risk 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2000;2(5):378-385.
We assessed the association between a glutamine repeat polymorphism in AIB1 and breast cancer risk in a case-control study (464 cases, 624 controls) nested within the Nurses' Health Study cohort. We observed no association between AIB1 genotype and breast cancer incidence, or specific tumor characteristics. These findings suggest that AIB1 repeat genotype does not influence postmenopausal breast cancer risk among Caucasian women in the general population.
Introduction:
A causal association between endogenous and exogenous estrogens and breast cancer has been established. Steroid hormones regulate the expression of proteins that are involved in breast cell proliferation and development after binding to their respective steroid hormone receptors. Coactivator and corepressor proteins have recently been identified that interact with steroid hormone receptors and modulate transcriptional activation [1]. AIB1 (amplified in breast 1) is a member of the steroid receptor coactivator (SRC) family that interacts with estrogen receptor (ER)α in a ligand-dependent manner, and increases estrogen-dependent transcription [2]. Amplification and overexpression of AIB1 has been observed in breast and ovarian cancer cell lines and in breast tumors [2,3]. A polymorphic stretch of glutamine amino acids, with unknown biologic function, has recently been described in the carboxyl-terminal region of AIB1 [4]. Among women with germline BRCA1 mutations, significant positive associations were observed between AIB1 alleles with 26 or fewer glutamine repeats and breast cancer risk [5]
Aim:
To establish whether AIB1 repeat alleles are associated with breast cancer risk and specific tumor characteristics among Caucasian women.
Patients and methods:
We evaluated associations prospectively between AIB1 alleles and breast cancer risk in the Nurses' Health Study using a nested case-control design. The Nurses' Health Study was initiated in 1976, when 121 700 US-registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 years returned an initial questionnaire reporting medical histories and baseline health-related exposures. Between 1989 and 1990 blood samples were collected from 32 826 women. Eligible cases in this study consisted of women with pathologically confirmed incident breast cancer from the subcohort who gave a blood specimen. Cases with a diagnosis anytime after blood collection up to June 1, 1994, with no previously diagnosed cancer except for nonmelanoma skin cancer were included. Controls were randomly selected participants who gave a blood sample and were free of diagnosed cancer (except nonmelanoma skin cancer) up to and including the interval in which the cases were diagnosed, and were matched to cases on year of birth, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone use, and time of day, month and fasting status at blood sampling. The nested case-control study consisted of 464 incident breast cancer cases and 624 matched controls. The protocol was approved by the Committee on Human Subjects, Brigham and Womens' Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts USA. Information regarding breast cancer risk factors was obtained from the 1976 baseline questionnaire, subsequent biennial questionnaires, and a questionnaire that was completed at the time of blood sampling. Histopathologic characteristics, such as stage, tumor size and ER and progesterone receptor (PR) status, were ascertained from medical records when available and used in case subgroup analyses.
AIB1 repeat alleles were determined by automated fluorescence-based fragment detection from polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified DNA extracted from peripheral blood lymphocytes. Fluorescent 5' -labeled primers were utilized for PCR amplification, and glutamine repeat number discrimination was performed using the ABI Prism 377 DNA Sequencer (Perkin-Elmer, Foster City, CA, USA). Genotyping was performed by laboratory personnel who were blinded to case-control status, and blinded quality control samples were inserted to validate genotyping identification procedures (n = 110); concordance for the blinded samples was 100%. Methods regarding plasma hormone assays have previously been reported [6]. Conditional and unconditional logistic regression models, including terms for the matching variables and other potential confounders, were used to assess the association of AIB1 alleles and breast cancer characterized by histologic subtype, stage of disease, and ER and PR status. We also evaluated whether breast cancer risk associated with AIB1 genotype differed within strata of established breast cancer risk factors, and whether repeat length in AIB1 indirectly influenced plasma hormone levels.
Results:
The case-control comparisons of established breast cancer risk factors among these women have previously been reported [7], and are generally consistent with expectation. The mean age of the women was 58.3 (standard deviation [SD] 7.1) years, ranging from 43 to 69 years at blood sampling. There were 188 premenopausal and 810 postmenopausal women, with mean ages of 48.1 (SD 2.8) years and 61.4 (SD 5.0) years, respectively, at blood sampling. Women in this study were primarily white; Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics comprised less than 1% of cases or controls.
The distribution of AIB1 glutamine repeat alleles and AIB1 genotypes for cases and controls are presented in Table 1. Women with AIB1 alleles of 26 glutamine repeats or fewer were not at increased risk for breast cancer (odds ratio [OR] 1.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75-1.36; Table 2). Results were also similar by menopausal status and in analyses additionally adjusting for established breast cancer risk factors. Among premenopausal women, the OR for women with at least one allele with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer was 0.82 (95% Cl 0.37-1.81), and among postmenopausal women the OR was 1.09 (95% Cl 0.78-1.52; Table 2). We did not observe evidence of a positive association between shorter repeat length and advanced breast cancer, defined as women with breast cancer having one or more involved nodes (OR 1.07, 95% Cl 0.64-1.78), or with cancers with a hormone-dependent phenotype (ER-positive: OR 1.16, 95% Cl 0.81-1.65; Table 3). No associations were observed among women who had one or more alleles with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer, with or without a family history of breast cancer (family history: OR 1.09; 95% Cl 0.46-2.58; no family history: OR 0.94; 95% Cl 0.68-1.31; test for interaction P = 0.65). We also did not observe associations with breast cancer risk to be modified by other established breast cancer risk factors. Among postmenopausal controls not using postmenopausal hormones, geometric least-squared mean plasma levels of estrone sulfate and estrone were similar among carriers and noncarriers of AIB1 alleles with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer (both differences: ≤ +3.5%; P >0.50). Mean levels of estradiol were slightly, but nonsignificantly elevated among carriers of alleles with 26 glutamine repeats or fewer (+11.6%; P = 0.08).
Discussion:
In this population-based nested case-control study, women with at most 26 repeating glutamine codons (CAG/CAA) within the carboxyl terminus of AIB1 were not at increased risk for breast cancer. We did not observe shorter repeat alleles to be positively associated with breast cancer grouped by histologic subtype, stage of disease, or by ER and PR status. These data suggest that AIB1 repeat length is not a strong independent risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer, and does not modify the clinical presentation of the tumor among Caucasian women in the general population.
PMCID: PMC13920  PMID: 11056690
AIB1 polymorphism; breast cancer; genetic susceptibility; molecular epidemiology
10.  Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer 
Executive Summary
In February 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on evidence-based reviews of published literature surrounding three pharmacogenomic tests. This project came about when Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) asked MAS to provide evidence-based analyses on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of three oncology pharmacogenomic tests currently in use in Ontario.
Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these technologies. These have been completed in conjunction with internal and external stakeholders, including a Provincial Expert Panel on Pharmacogenomics (PEPP). Within the PEPP, subgroup committees were developed for each disease area. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed by the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative (THETA) and is summarized within the reports.
The following reports can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: www.health.gov.on.ca/mas or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html
Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer: An Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: An Evidence-Based and Ecopnomic Analysis
K-RAS testing in Treatment Decisions for Advanced Colorectal Cancer: an Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis
Objective
To review and synthesize the available evidence regarding the laboratory performance, prognostic value, and predictive value of Oncotype-DX for the target population.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
The target population of this review is women with newly diagnosed early stage (stage I–IIIa) invasive breast cancer that is estrogen-receptor (ER) positive and/or progesterone-receptor (PR) positive. Much of this review, however, is relevant for women with early stage (I and II) invasive breast cancer that is specifically ER positive, lymph node (LN) negative and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2/neu) negative. This refined population represents an estimated incident population of 3,315 new breast cancers in Ontario (according to 2007 data). Currently it is estimated that only 15% of these women will develop a distant metastasis at 10 years; however, a far great proportion currently receive adjuvant chemotherapy, suggesting that more women are being treated with chemotherapy than can benefit. There is therefore a need to develop better prognostic and predictive tools to improve the selection of women that may benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy.
Technology of Concern
The Oncotype-DX Breast Cancer Assay (Genomic Health, Redwood City, CA) quantifies gene expression for 21 genes in breast cancer tissue by performing reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumour blocks that are obtained during initial surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy, or core biopsy) of women with early breast cancer that is newly diagnosed. The panel of 21 genes include genes associated with tumour proliferation and invasion, as well as other genes related to HER-2/neu expression, ER expression, and progesterone receptor (PR) expression.
Research Questions
What is the laboratory performance of Oncotype-DX?
How reliable is Oncotype-DX (i.e., how repeatable and reproducible is Oncotype-DX)?
How often does Oncotype-DX fail to give a useable result?
What is the prognostic value of Oncotype-DX?*
Is Oncotype-DX recurrence score associated with the risk of distant recurrence or death due to any cause in women with early breast cancer receiving tamoxifen?
What is the predictive value of Oncotype-DX?*
Does Oncoytpe-DX recurrence score predict significant benefit in terms of improvements in 10-year distant recurrence or death due to any cause for women receiving tamoxifen plus chemotherapy in comparison to women receiving tamoxifen alone?
How does Oncotype-DX compare to other known predictors of risk such as Adjuvant! Online?
How does Oncotype-DX impact patient quality of life and clinical/patient decision-making?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on March 19th, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1st, 2006 to March 19th, 2010. A starting search date of January 1st, 2006 was because a comprehensive systematic review of Oncotype-DX was identified in preliminary literature searching. This systematic review, by Marchionni et al. (2008), included literature up to January 1st, 2007. All studies identified in the review by Marchionni et al. as well as those identified in updated literature searching were used to form the evidentiary base of this review. The quality of the overall body of evidence was identified as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
Any observational trial, controlled clinical trial, randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis or systematic review that reported on the laboratory performance, prognostic value and/or predictive value of Oncotype-DX testing, or other outcome relevant to the Key Questions, specific to the target population was included.
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that did not report original data or original data analysis,
Studies published in a language other than English,
Studies reported only in abstract or as poster presentations (such publications were not sought nor included in this review since the MAS does not generally consider evidence that is not subject to peer review nor does the MAS consider evidence that lacks detailed description of methodology).
Outcomes of Interest
Outcomes of interest varied depending on the Key Question. For the Key Questions of prognostic and predictive value (Key Questions #2 and #3), the prospectively defined primary outcome was risk of 10-year distant recurrence. The prospectively defined secondary outcome was 10-year death due to any cause (i.e., overall survival). All additional outcomes such as risk of locoregional recurrence or disease-free survival (DFS) were not prospectively determined for this review but were reported as presented in included trials; these outcomes are referenced as tertiary outcomes in this review. Outcomes for other Key Questions (i.e., Key Questions #1, #4 and #5) were not prospectively defined due to the variability in endpoints relevant for these questions.
Summary of Findings
A total of 26 studies were included. Of these 26 studies, only five studies were relevant to the primary questions of this review (Key Questions #2 and #3). The following conclusions were drawn from the entire body of evidence:
There is a lack of external validation to support the reliability of Oncotype-DX; however, the current available evidence derived from internal industry validation studies suggests that Oncotype-DX is reliable (i.e., Oncotype-DX is repeatable and reproducible).
Current available evidence suggests a moderate failure rate of Oncotype-DX testing; however, the failure rate observed across clinical trials included in this review is likely inflated; the current Ontario experience suggests an acceptably lower rate of test failure.
In women with newly diagnosed early breast cancer (stage I–II) that is estrogen-receptor positive and/or progesterone-receptor positive and lymph-node negative:
There is low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX has prognostic value in women who are being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen or anastrozole (the latter for postmenopausal women only),
There is very low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX can predict which women will benefit from adjuvant CMF/MF chemotherapy in women being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
In postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed early breast cancer that is estrogen-receptor positive and/or progesterone-receptor positive and lymph-node positive:
There is low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX has limited prognostic value in women who are being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen or anastrozole,
There is very low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX has limited predictive value for predicting which women will benefit from adjuvant CAF chemotherapy in women who are being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
There are methodological and statistical limitations that affect both the generalizability of the current available evidence, as well as the magnitude and statistical strength of the observed effect sizes; in particular:
Of the major predictive trials, Oncotype-DX scores were only produced for a small subset of women (<40% of the original randomized population) potentially disabling the effects of treatment randomization and opening the possibility of selection bias;
Data is not specific to HER-2/neu-negative women;
There were limitations with multivariate statistical analyses.
Additional trials of observational design may provide further validation of the prognostic and predictive value of Oncotype-DX; however, it is unlikely that prospective or randomized data will become available in the near future due to ethical, time and resource considerations.
There is currently insufficient evidence investigating how Oncoytpe-DX compares to other known prognostic estimators of risk, such as Adjuvant! Online, and there is insufficient evidence investigating how Oncotype-DX would impact clinician/patient decision-making in a setting generalizable to Ontario.
PMCID: PMC3382301  PMID: 23074401
11.  Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Expression in Normal Terminal Duct Lobular Units Surrounding Invasive Breast Cancer 
Introduction
Molecular and morphological alterations related to carcinogenesis have been found in terminal duct lobular units (TDLUs), the microscopic structures from which most breast cancer precursors and cancers develop, and therefore, analysis of these structures may reveal early changes in breast carcinogenesis and etiologic heterogeneity. Accordingly, we evaluated relationships of breast cancer risk factors and tumor pathology to estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) expression in TDLUs surrounding breast cancers.
Methods
We analyzed 270 breast cancer cases included in a population-based breast cancer case-control study conducted in Poland. TDLUs were mapped in relation to breast cancer: within the same block as the tumor (TDLU-T), proximal to tumor (TDLU-PT), or distant from (TDLU-DT). ER/PR was quantitated using image analysis of immunohistochemically stained TDLUs prepared as tissue microarrays.
Results
In surgical specimens containing ER-positive breast cancers, ER and PR levels were significantly higher in breast cancer cells than in normal TDLUs, and higher in TDLU-T than in TDLU-DT or TDLU-PT, which showed similar results. Analyses combining DT-/PT TDLUs within subjects demonstrated that ER levels were significantly lower in premenopausal women vs. postmenopausal women (odds ratio [OR]=0.38, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.19, 0.76, P=0.0064) and among recent or current menopausal hormone therapy users compared with never users (OR=0.14, 95% CI=0.046–0.43, Ptrend=0.0006). Compared with premenopausal women, TDLUs of postmenopausal women showed lower levels of PR (OR=0.90, 95% CI=0.83–0.97, Ptrend=0.007). ER and PR expression in TDLUs was associated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression in invasive tumors (P=0.019 for ER and P=0.03 for PR), but not with other tumor features.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that TDLUs near breast cancers reflect field effects, whereas those at a distance demonstrate influences of breast cancer risk factors on at-risk breast tissue. Analyses of mapped TDLUs may provide information about the sequence of molecular changes occurring in breast carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1007/s10549-012-2380-2
PMCID: PMC4154606  PMID: 23271326
terminal duct lobular units (TDLUs); estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor; breast cancer; risk factors; tumor characteristics
12.  Immunohistochemical evaluation of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 and estrogen and progesterone receptors in invasive breast cancer in women 
Introduction
Estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) expression are crucial in the biology of breast carcinoma. HER-2/neu gene is amplified and overexpressed in 15-30% of invasive breast cancers. HER-2-positive breast cancers have worse prognosis than HER-2 negative tumors and possess distinctive clinical features. The aim of this study was to assess the expression of HER2 in cancer tissue of patients with invasive breast cancer in correlation with tumor type, histological grade, tumor size, lymph node status, and expression of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor.
Material and methods
Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues from 40 patients with invasive HER-2-positive breast cancer and from 191 patients with HER-2-negative breast cancer were used in this study. HER2 expression was determined using the test HerceptTest™ DAKO.
Results
Among 231 cases of breast cancer, 18 invasive lobular carcinomas and 213 invasive ductal carcinomas were diagnosed. Sixty percent of HER-2-positive breast cancers were ER-positive compared with 77% in the HER-2-negative group (p = 0.002). The expression of PR was observed in 43% of HER-2-positive breast cancers and in 72% of HER2-negative tumors (p = 0.003). Excessive expression of HER2 protein was detected in 60% of patients positive for estrogen receptors, which may worsen prognosis in these patients.
Conclusions
Determination of HER2 overexpression in breast cancer patients, allows for a determination of a group of patients with a worse prognosis.
doi:10.5114/aoms.2012.31010
PMCID: PMC3701965  PMID: 23847668
invasive ductal carcinoma; invasive lobular carcinoma; human epidermal growth factor receptor 2; estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor
13.  Breast Cancer in Kumasi, Ghana 
Ghana Medical Journal  2012;46(1):8-13.
Summary
Background
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Ghanaian women.
Objective
To describes the characteristics of breast cancer patients attending the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.
Method
The study was conducted at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Between July 1st 2004 and June 30th 2009 patients presenting with breast lumps were assessed by clinical examination, imaging studies and pathological examination. Relevant clinical and pathological were recorded prospectively data on all patients with microscopically proven breast cancer. The cancers were graded according to the modified Bloom-Richardson system. Tissue immunoperoxidase stains for oestrogen, progesterone receptors and c-erb2 oncogene were performed with commercially prepared antigens and reagents.
Results
Nineteen thousand four hundred and twenty - three (19,423) patients were seen during the study period. There were 330 (1.7%) patients with histologically proven breast cancer. The mean age was 49.1 years. A palpable breast lump was detected in 248 patients (75.2%). Two hundred and eighty -one patients (85.2%) presented with Stages III and IV , 271 (82.1 %) invasive and 230 (85.2%) high grade carcinomas. Oestrogen and progesterone receptors were positive in 32 and 9 cases respectively. Her2 protein was positive in 11 cases.
Conclusion
In Kumasi, as in other parts of Ghana, breast cancer affects mostly young pre-menopausal who present with advanced disease. The cancers have unfavourable prognostic features and are unlikely to respond to hormonal therapy.
PMCID: PMC3353503  PMID: 22605883
Breast cancer; late stage presentation; unfavourable characteristics; Kumasi
14.  Estrogen receptor negative/progesterone receptor positive breast cancer is not a reproducible subtype 
Introduction
Estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) testing are performed in the evaluation of breast cancer. While the clinical utility of ER as a predictive biomarker to identify patients likely to benefit from hormonal therapy is well-established, the added value of PR is less well-defined. The primary goals of our study were to assess the distribution, inter-assay reproducibility, and prognostic significance of breast cancer subtypes defined by patterns of ER and PR expression.
Methods
We integrated gene expression microarray (GEM) and clinico-pathologic data from 20 published studies to determine the frequency (n = 4,111) and inter-assay reproducibility (n = 1,752) of ER/PR subtypes (ER+/PR+, ER+/PR-, ER-/PR-, ER-/PR+). To extend our findings, we utilized a cohort of patients from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) with ER/PR data recorded in the medical record and assessed on tissue microarrays (n = 2,011). In both datasets, we assessed the association of ER and PR expression with survival.
Results
In a genome-wide analysis, progesterone receptor was among the least variable genes in ER- breast cancer. The ER-/PR+ subtype was rare (approximately 1 to 4%) and showed no significant reproducibility (Kappa = 0.02 and 0.06, in the GEM and NHS datasets, respectively). The vast majority of patients classified as ER-/PR+ in the medical record (97% and 94%, in the GEM and NHS datasets) were re-classified by a second method. In the GEM dataset (n = 2,731), progesterone receptor mRNA expression was associated with prognosis in ER+ breast cancer (adjusted P <0.001), but not in ER- breast cancer (adjusted P = 0.21). PR protein expression did not contribute significant prognostic information to multivariate models considering ER and other standard clinico-pathologic features in the GEM or NHS datasets.
Conclusion
ER-/PR+ breast cancer is not a reproducible subtype. PR expression is not associated with prognosis in ER- breast cancer, and PR does not contribute significant independent prognostic information to multivariate models considering ER and other standard clinico-pathologic factors. Given that PR provides no clinically actionable information in ER+ breast cancer, these findings question the utility of routine PR testing in breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/bcr3462
PMCID: PMC3978610  PMID: 23971947
Estrogen receptor; Progesterone receptor; Breast cancer; Immunohistochemistry; Gene expression microarrays; Biomarkers; Inter-assay reproducibility
15.  Flow cytometric DNA hypertetraploidy is associated with unfavourable prognostic features in breast cancer. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1997;50(7):591-595.
AIM: Breast tumours with a DNA content higher than 4N (hypertetraploidy) are not well characterised. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical and biological characteristics of 51 hypertetraploid breast carcinomas selected from a series of 860 consecutive cases analysed by flow cytometry. METHODS: The clinicopathological characteristics of the hypertetraploid group were compared with those of a control group of 138 non-hypertetraploid breast carcinomas. Breast tumours from patients submitted to surgery as primary therapeutic approach (15 hypertetraploid and the 138 non-hypertetraploid) were TNM staged and classified according to the histological type and grade. The remaining 36 patients had advanced neoplastic disease at presentation and were classified by cytological criteria only. DNA flow cytometric analysis was performed on fresh-frozen samples stained with propidium iodide. Hormone receptors were analysed by immunocytochemistry. RESULTS: The incidence of hypertetraploid breast tumours was 5.9% (51 of 860). All the patients were women and the mean age at diagnosis was 65 years. There was a family history of breast cancer in 21.6% of cases. In the group of operated patients, 33.3% had pT3 tumours and 53.3% had axillary lymph node metastases. All but one tumour were invasive ductal carcinomas; the remaining was an invasive papillary carcinoma. Ten (66.7%) tumours were classified as poorly differentiated carcinomas. Oestrogen and progesterone receptors were negative in 33 (64.7%) and 38 (74.5%) tumours, respectively. At last follow up, 35 (72.9%) patients were alive, while 13 (27.1%) died of disease within three years of diagnosis. Statistical comparison of the clinicopathological features of hypertetraploid v non-hypertetraploid breast carcinomas yielded a significant difference in tumour size (p < 0.001), histological grade (p < 0.001), hormone receptor status (p < 0.001), and overall survival (p < 0.001) between the two groups. CONCLUSION: Flow cytometric DNA hypertetraploidy is related to clinicopathological features of breast cancer usually associated with unfavourable prognosis.
Images
PMCID: PMC500065  PMID: 9306941
16.  Sex differences in the incidence of colorectal cancer: an exploration of oestrogen and progesterone receptors. 
Gut  1993;34(5):611-615.
Sex differences exist in the site specific incidences of colorectal cancer. The increased incidence of colonic cancer in women with breast cancer and the protective effect of increasing parity suggest a role for sex hormones. To explore the molecular basis, the expression of messenger RNA for oestrogen and progesterone receptors in the large bowel has been studied. With northern and dot blot analyses mRNA coding for oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor in large bowel cancers and corresponding normal mucosa and in adenomatous polyps has been identified. There were no significant differences in receptor mRNA concentrations between males and females or between cancers, normal mucosae, and polyps, except for rectal cancers, which had higher progesterone receptor concentrations than corresponding normal tissue. Oestrogen and progesterone receptor mRNA concentrations were strongly correlated in both cancers and normal tissues. Enzyme immunoassay for oestrogen receptor gave values of 1.2-7.4 fmol/mg total protein, an amount similar to that seen in normal breast tissue. Oestrogen receptor protein and mRNA for oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor are present in the large bowel.
Images
PMCID: PMC1374176  PMID: 8504960
17.  Altered expression of estrogen receptor-α variant messenger RNAs between adjacent normal breast and breast tumor tissues 
Breast Cancer Research  1999;2(1):64-72.
Using semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assays, we investigated the expression of variant messenger RNAs relative to wild-type estrogen receptor (ER)-α messenger RNA in normal breast tissues and their adjacent matched breast tumor tissues. Higher ER variant truncated after sequences encoding exon 2 of the wild-type ER-α (ERC4) messenger RNA and a lower exon 3 deleted ER-α variant (ERD3) messenger RNA relative expression in the tumor compartment were observed in the ER-positive/PR-positive and the ER-positive subsets, respectively. A significantly higher relative expression of exon 5 deleted ER-α varient (ERD5) messenger RNA was observed in tumor components overall. These data demonstrate that changes in the relative expression of ER-α variant messenger RNAs occur between adjacent normal and neoplastic breast tissues. We suggest that these changes might be involved in the mechanisms that underlie breast tumorigenesis.
Introduction:
Estrogen receptor (ER)-α and ER-β are believed to mediate the action of estradiol in target tissues. Several ER-α and ER-β variant messenger RNAs have been identified in both normal and neoplastic human tissues. Most of these variants contain a deletion of one or more exons of the wild-type (WT) ER messenger RNAs. The putative proteins that are encoded by these variant messenger RNAs would therefore be missing some functional domains of the WT receptors, and might interfere with WT-ER signaling pathways. The detection of ER-α variants in both normal and neoplastic human breast tissues raised the question of their possible role in breast tumorigenesis.
We have previously reported an increased relative expression of exon 5 deleted ER-α variant (ERD5) messenger RNA and of another ER-α variant truncated of all sequences following the exon 2 of the WT ER-α (ERC4) messenger RNA in breast tumor samples versus independent normal breast tissues. In contrast, a decreased relative expression of exon 3 deleted ER-α variant (ERD3) messenger RNA in tumor tissues and cancer cell lines versus independent normal reduction mammoplasty samples has recently been reported. These data were obtained in tissues from different individuals and possible interindividual differences cannot be excluded.
Aims:
The goal of this study was to investigate the expressions of ERC4, ERD5 and ERD3 variant messenger RNAs in normal breast tissues and their matched adjacent primary breast tumor tissues.
Materials and methods:
Eighteen cases were selected from the Manitoba Breast Tumor Bank, which had well separated and histopathologically characterized normal and adjacent neoplastic components. All tumors were classified as primary invasive ductal carcinomas. Six tumors were ER-negative/progesterone receptor (PR)-negative, nine were ER-positive/PR-positive, two were ER-positive/PR-negative, and one was ER-negative/PR-positive, as measured by ligand-binding assay. For each specimen, total RNA was extracted from frozen normal and tumor tissue sections and was reverse transcribed. The expressions of ERC4, ERD3 and ERD5 messenger RNAs relative to WT ER-α messenger RNA were investigated by previously validated semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays performed using three different sets of primers.
Results:
As shown Figure 1a, two PCR products were obtained that corresponded to WT ER and ERC4 messenger RNAs. For each case, the mean of the ratios obtained in at least three independent PCR experiments is shown for both normal and tumor compartments (Fig 1b). A statistically higher ERC4 messenger RNA relative expression was found in the neoplastic components of ER-positive/PR-positive tumors, as compared with matched adjacent normal tissues (n = 9; P = 0.019, Wilcoxon signed-rank test).
Two PCR products were obtained that corresponded to WT ER and ERD3 messenger RNAs (Fig 2a). A significantly higher expression of ERD3 messenger RNA was observed in the normal compared with the adjacent neoplastic components of ER-positive subset (n =8; P =0.023, Wilcoxon signed-rank test; Fig 2b).
Two PCR products were obtained that corresponded to WT ER and ERD5 complementary DNAs (Fig 3a). As shown in Figure 3b, a statistically significant higher relative expression of ERD5 messenger RNA was observed in tumor components when this expression was measurable in both normal and adjacent tumor tissues (n =15; P =0.035, Wilcoxon signed-rank test).
Discussion:
A statistically significant higher ERC4 messenger RNA expression was found in ER-positive/PR-positive tumors as compared with matched normal breast tissues. ERC4 variant messenger RNA has previously been demonstrated to be more highly expressed in ER-positive tumors that showed poor as opposed to tumors that showed good prognostic characteristics. Interestingly, we also have reported similar levels of expression of ERC4 messenger RNA in primary breast tumors and their concurrent axillary lymph node metastases. Taken together, these data suggest that the putative role of the ERC4 variant might be important at different phases of breast tumorigenesis and tumor progression; alteration of ERC4 messenger RNA expression and resulting modifications in ER signaling pathway probably occur before breast cancer cells acquire the ability to metastasize. Transient expression assays revealed that the protein encoded by ERC4 messenger RNA was unable to activate the transcription of an estrogen-responsive element-reporter gene or to modulate the wild-type ER protein activity. The biologic significance of the changes observed in ERC4 messenger RNA expression during breast tumorigenesis remains to be determined.
A higher relative expression of ERD3 messenger RNA in the normal breast tissue components compared with adjacent neoplastic tissue was found in the ER-positive subgroup. These data are in agreement with the recently published report of Erenburg et al, who showed a decreased relative expression of ERD3 messenger RNA in neoplastic breast tissues compared with independent reduction mammoplasty and breast tumor. Transfection experiments showed that the activation of the transcription of the pS2 gene by estrogen was drastically reduced in the presence of increased ERD3 expression. The authors hypothesized that the reduction in ERD3 expression could be a prerequisite for breast carcinogenesis to proceed.
We observed a significantly higher relative expression of ERD5 messenger RNA in breast tumor components compared with matched adjacent normal breast tissue. These data confirm our previous observations performed on unmatched normal and neoplastic human breast tissues. Upregulated expression of this variant has already been reported in ER-negative/PR-positive tumors, as compared with ER-positive/PR-positive tumors, suggesting a possible correlation between ERD5 messenger RNA expression and breast tumor progression. Even though it has been suggested that ERD5 could be related to the acquisition of insensitivity to antiestrogen treatment (ie tamoxifen), accumulating data refute a general role for ERD5 in hormone-resistant tumors. Only ER-positive pS2-positive tamoxifen-resistant tumors have been shown to express significantly higher levels of ERD5 messenger RNA, as compared with control tumors. Taken together, these data suggest that the exact biologic significance of ERD5 variant expression during breast tumorigenesis and breast cancer progression, if any, remains unclear.
In conclusion, we have shown that the relative expressions of ERC4 and ERD5 variant messenger RNAs were increased in human breast tumor tissue, as compared with normal adjacent tissue, whereas the expression of ERD3 variant messenger RNA was decreased in breast tumor tissues. These results suggest that the expressions of several ER-α variant messenger RNAs are deregulated during human breast tumorigenesis. Further studies are needed to determine whether these changes are transposed at the protein level. Furthermore, the putative role of ER-α variants in the mechanisms that underlie breast tumorigenesis remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC13912  PMID: 11400682
breast cancer; estrogen receptor; tumorigenesis; variant messenger RNA
18.  The progestational and androgenic properties of medroxyprogesterone acetate: gene regulatory overlap with dihydrotestosterone in breast cancer cells 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(6):R1036-R1050.
Introduction
Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), the major progestin used for oral contraception and hormone replacement therapy, has been implicated in increased breast cancer risk. Is this risk due to its progestational or androgenic properties? To address this, we assessed the transcriptional effects of MPA as compared with those of progesterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in human breast cancer cells.
Method
A new progesterone receptor-negative, androgen receptor-positive human breast cancer cell line, designated Y-AR, was engineered and characterized. Transcription assays using a synthetic promoter/reporter construct, as well as endogenous gene expression profiling comparing progesterone, MPA and DHT, were performed in cells either lacking or containing progesterone receptor and/or androgen receptor.
Results
In progesterone receptor-positive cells, MPA was found to be an effective progestin through both progesterone receptor isoforms in transient transcription assays. Interestingly, DHT signaled through progesterone receptor type B. Expression profiling of endogenous progesterone receptor-regulated genes comparing progesterone and MPA suggested that although MPA may be a somewhat more potent progestin than progesterone, it is qualitatively similar to progesterone. To address effects of MPA through androgen receptor, expression profiling was performed comparing progesterone, MPA and DHT using Y-AR cells. These studies showed extensive gene regulatory overlap between DHT and MPA through androgen receptor and none with progesterone. Interestingly, there was no difference between pharmacological MPA and physiological MPA, suggesting that high-dose therapeutic MPA may be superfluous.
Conclusion
Our comparison of the gene regulatory profiles of MPA and progesterone suggests that, for physiologic hormone replacement therapy, the actions of MPA do not mimic those of endogenous progesterone alone. Clinically, the complex pharmacology of MPA not only influences its side-effect profile; but it is also possible that the increased breast cancer risk and/or the therapeutic efficacy of MPA in cancer treatment is in part mediated by androgen receptor.
doi:10.1186/bcr1340
PMCID: PMC1410743  PMID: 16457685
19.  Cyclin D1 Enhances the Response to Estrogen and Progesterone by Regulating Progesterone Receptor Expression ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(12):3111-3125.
Estrogen and progesterone are the defining hormones of normal female development, and both play critical roles in breast carcinogenesis. Cyclin D1 is a breast cancer oncogene whose amplification is linked to poor prognosis in estrogen and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancers. Here we report that cyclin D1 regulates progesterone receptor expression, consequently enhancing responses to estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen treatment of cyclin D1 transgenic mice increased progesterone receptor expression and induced mammary hyperplasias that were stimulated by progesterone and blocked by a progesterone antagonist. Progesterone receptor levels decreased in cyclin D1 knockout mice. Cyclin D1 regulated progesterone receptor expression through a novel estrogen- and cyclin D1-responsive enhancer in DNA encoding part of the 3′ untranslated region of the progesterone receptor gene. Small inhibitory RNAs for cyclin D1 decreased progesterone receptor expression and estrogen receptor binding to the 3′ enhancer region in human breast cancer cells. Since estrogen and progesterone regulate cyclin D1, our results suggest that cyclin D1's participation in a feed-forward loop could contribute to increased breast cancer risks associated with estrogen and progesterone combinations. Additionally, its regulation of the progesterone receptor identifies a novel role for cyclin D1 in ovarian hormone control of breast development and breast carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1128/MCB.01398-09
PMCID: PMC2876668  PMID: 20404095
20.  Tumor-suppressor activity of RRIG1 in breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:32.
Background
Retinoid receptor-induced gene-1 (RRIG1) is a novel gene that has been lost in several types of human cancers. The aim of this study was to determine whether RRIG1 plays a role in breast cancer, such as in the suppression of breast cancer cell growth and invasion.
Methods
Immunohistochemistry was used to detect RRIG1 expression in breast tissue specimens. Gene transfection was used to restore or knock down RRIG1 expression in breast cancer cell lines for analysis of cell viability, colony formation, and migration/invasion potential. Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and western blot assays were used to detect the changes in gene expression. The RhoA activation assay was used to assess RRIG1-induced inhibition of RhoA activity.
Results
The immunohistochemical data showed that RRIG1 expression was reduced in breast cancer tissues compared with normal and atypical hyperplastic breast tissues. RRIG1 expression was inversely correlated with lymph node metastasis of breast cancer but was not associated with the status of hormone receptors, such as estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or HER2. Furthermore, restoration of RRIG1 expression inhibited proliferation, colony formation, migration, and invasion of breast cancer cells. Expression of RRIG1 also reduced phosphorylated Erk1/2 and Akt levels; c-Jun, MMP9, and Akt expressions; and RhoA activity. In contrast, knockdown of RRIG1 expression promoted breast cancer cell proliferation, colony formation, migration, and invasion potential.
Conclusion
The data from the current study indicated that RRIG1 expression was reduced or lost in breast cancer and that restoration of RRIG1 expression suppressed breast cancer cell growth and invasion capacity. Future studies will determine the underlying molecular mechanisms and define RRIG1 as a tumor-suppressor gene in breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-32
PMCID: PMC3037341  PMID: 21266059
21.  Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 1 Expression and Its Polymorphic Variants Associate with Breast Cancer Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69851.
Several epidemiological studies have suggested a link between melanoma and breast cancer. Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1), which is involved in many cellular processes including proliferation and differentiation, has been implicated in melanomagenesis, with ectopic expression of GRM1 causing malignant transformation of melanocytes. This study was undertaken to evaluate GRM1 expression and polymorphic variants in GRM1 for associations with breast cancer phenotypes. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in GRM1 were evaluated for associations with breast cancer clinicopathologic variables. GRM1 expression was evaluated in human normal and cancerous breast tissue and for in vitro response to hormonal manipulation. Genotyping was performed on genomic DNA from over 1,000 breast cancer patients. Rs6923492 and rs362962 genotypes associated with age at diagnosis that was highly dependent upon the breast cancer molecular phenotype. The rs362962 TT genotype also associated with risk of estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive breast cancer. In vitro analysis showed increased GRM1 expression in breast cancer cells treated with estrogen or the combination of estrogen and progesterone, but reduced GRM1 expression with tamoxifen treatment. Evaluation of GRM1 expression in human breast tumor specimens demonstrated significant correlations between GRM1 staining with tissue type and molecular features. Furthermore, analysis of gene expression data from primary breast tumors showed that high GRM1 expression correlated with a shorter distant metastasis-free survival as compared to low GRM1 expression in tamoxifen-treated patients. Additionally, induced knockdown of GRM1 in an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell line correlated with reduced cell proliferation. Taken together, these findings suggest a functional role for GRM1 in breast cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069851
PMCID: PMC3724883  PMID: 23922822
22.  Relationship between Tumor Heterogeneity Measured on FDG-PET/CT and Pathological Prognostic Factors in Invasive Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94017.
Background
There is currently little support to understand which pathological factors led to differences in tumor texture as measured from FDG PET/CT images. We studied whether tumor heterogeneity measured using texture analysis in FDG-PET/CT images is correlated with pathological prognostic factors in invasive breast cancer.
Methods
Fifty-four patients with locally advanced breast cancer who had an initial FDG-PET/CT were retrospectively included. In addition to SUVmax, three robust textural indices extracted from 3D matrices: High-Gray-level Run Emphasis (HGRE), Entropy and Homogeneity were studied. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression was used to identify PET parameters associated with poor prognosis pathological factors: hormone receptor negativity, presence of HER-2 and triple negative phenotype. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and the (AUC) analysis, and reclassification measures, were performed in order to evaluate the performance of combining texture analysis and SUVmax for characterizing breast tumors.
Results
Tumor heterogeneity, measured with HGRE, was higher in negative estrogen receptor (p = 0.039) and negative progesterone receptor tumors (p = 0.036), and in Scarff-Bloom-Richardson grade 3 tumors (p = 0.047). None of the PET indices could identify HER-2 positive tumors. Only SUVmax was positively correlated with Ki-67 (p<0.0004). Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) exhibited higher SUVmax (Odd Ratio = 1.22, 95%CI [1.06–1.39],p = 0.004), lower Homogeneity (OR = 3.57[0.98–12.5],p = 0.05) and higher HGRE (OR = 8.06[1.88–34.51],p = 0.005) than non-TNBC. Multivariate analysis showed that HGRE remained associated with TNBC (OR = 5.27[1.12–1.38],p = 0.03) after adjustment for SUVmax. Combining SUVmax and HGRE yielded in higher area under the ROC curves (AUC) than SUVmax for identifying TNBC: AUC =  0.83 and 0.77, respectively. Probability of correct classification also increased in 77% (10/13) of TNBC and 71% (29/41) of non-TNBC (p = 0.003), when combining SUVmax and HGRE.
Conclusions
Tumor heterogeneity measured on FDG-PET/CT was higher in invasive breast cancer with poor prognosis pathological factors. Texture analysis might be used, in addition to SUVmax, as a new tool to assess invasive breast cancer aggressiveness.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094017
PMCID: PMC3983104  PMID: 24722644
23.  The expression of prostate-specific antigen in invasive breast carcinoma and its relationship with routine clinicopathologic parameters 
Background:
Invasive breast carcinoma is one of the most common cancers of women. Parameters such as lymph node status, tumor grade, and the status of hormone receptors are among the main prognostic determinants of this cancer. Immunohistochemical detection of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is widely used to identify metastatic prostatic adenocarcinoma. However, its immunoreactivity has been found in some non-prostatic tissues. This study was conducted to assess PSA expression in invasive breast carcinoma and its relationship with routine clinicopathologic parameters.
Materials and Methods:
100 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded invasive breast carcinoma tissue specimens from the pathology archive of Alzahra hospital (Isfahan, Iran) were studied for the expression of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), HER2/neu, and PSA by immunohistochemistry. Stained sections were classified according to the intensity of staining and the percentage of cells showing PSA staining. The relationship between PSA expression and other markers, age, lymph node status, tumor subtype, and tumor grade was then studied.
Results:
No association was found between PSA expression on one hand and PR, Her2/neu, age, lymph node status, tumor grade, and tumor subtype on the other. PSA score was reversely correlated with ER expression (P = 0.015).
Conclusion:
Despite the reverse relationship between PSA expression and the immunoreactivity of ER, PSA expression was not correlated with other prognostic factors. Therefore, the detection of PSA by immunohistochemistry does not seem to be a significant prognostic parameter in patients with invasive breast carcinoma.
doi:10.4103/2277-9175.100172
PMCID: PMC3544090  PMID: 23326786
Estrogen receptor; immunohistochemistry; invasive breast carcinoma; prostate-specific antigen; progesterone receptor
24.  Extra-Nuclear Signaling of Progesterone Receptor to Breast Cancer Cell Movement and Invasion through the Actin Cytoskeleton 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2790.
Progesterone plays a role in breast cancer development and progression but the effects on breast cancer cell movement or invasion have not been fully explored. In this study, we investigate the actions of natural progesterone and of the synthetic progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) on actin cytoskeleton remodeling and on breast cancer cell movement and invasion. In particular, we characterize the nongenomic signaling cascades implicated in these actions. T47-D breast cancer cells display enhanced horizontal migration and invasion of three-dimensional matrices in the presence of both progestins. Exposure to the hormones triggers a rapid remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton and the formation of membrane ruffles required for cell movement, which are dependent on the rapid phosphorylation of the actin-regulatory protein moesin. The extra-cellular small GTPase RhoA/Rho-associated kinase (ROCK-2) cascade plays central role in progesterone- and MPA-induced moesin activation, cell migration and invasion. In the presence of progesterone, progesterone receptor A (PRA) interacts with the G protein Gα13, while MPA drives PR to interact with tyrosine kinase c-Src and to activate phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase, leading to the activation of RhoA/ROCK-2. In conclusion, our findings manifest that progesterone and MPA promote breast cancer cell movement via rapid actin cytoskeleton remodeling, which are mediated by moesin activation. These events are triggered by RhoA/ROCK-2 cascade through partially differing pathways by the two compounds. These results provide original mechanistic explanations for the effects of progestins on breast cancer progression and highlight potential targets to treat endocrine-sensitive breast cancers.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002790
PMCID: PMC2464736  PMID: 18665217
25.  The Biology of Progesterone Receptor in the Normal Mammary gland and in Breast Cancer 
This paper reviews work on progesterone and the progesterone receptor (PR) in the mouse mammary gland that has been used extensively as an experimental model. Studies have led to the concept that progesterone controls proliferation and morphogenesis of the luminal epithelium in a tightly orchestrated manner at distinct stages of development by paracrine signaling pathways, including receptor of activated nuclear factor κ ligand (RANKL) as a major paracrine factor. Progesterone also drives expansion of stem cells by paracrine signals to generate progenitors required for alveologenesis. During mid-to-late pregnancy, progesterone has another role to suppress secretory activation until parturition mediated in part by crosstalk between PR and prolactin/Stat5 signaling to inhibit induction of milk protein gene expression, and by inhibiting tight junction closure. In models of hormone-dependent mouse mammary tumors, the progesterone/PR signaling axis enhances pre-neoplastic progression by a switch from a paracrine to an autocrine mode of proliferation and dysregulation of the RANKL signaling pathway. Limited experiments with normal human breast show that progesterone/PR signaling also stimulates epithelial cell proliferation by a paracrine mechanism; however, the signaling pathways and whether RANKL is a major mediator remains unknown. Work with human breast cancer cell lines, patient tumor samples and clinical studies indicates that progesterone is a risk factor for breast cancer and that alteration in progesterone/PR signaling pathways contributes to early stage human breast cancer progression. However, loss of PR expression in primary tumors is associated with a less differentiated more invasive phenotype and worse prognosis, suggesting that PR may limit later stages of tumor progression.
doi:10.1016/j.mce.2011.10.030
PMCID: PMC3318965  PMID: 22193050
Progesterone receptor; Breast cancer; Mammary gland; Prolactin; STAT5; RANKL

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