We sought to evaluate the survival of patients who received breast surgery prior to any other breast cancer therapy following a metastatic diagnosis. Standard treatment for stage IV breast cancer is systemic therapy without resection of the primary tumor. Registry-based studies suggest that resection of the primary tumor may improve survival in stage IV cancer. We performed a retrospective analysis using data from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Breast Cancer Outcomes Database. Patients were eligible if they had a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis at presentation with disease at a distant site and either received surgery prior to any systemic therapy or received systemic therapy only. Eligible patients who did not receive surgery were matched to those who received surgery based on age at diagnosis, ER, HER2, and number of meta-static sites. To determine whether estimates from the matched analysis were consistent with estimates that could be obtained without matching univariate and multivariable analyses of the unmatched sample were also conducted. There were 1,048 patients in the NCCN database diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer from 1997 to 2007. 609 meta-static breast cancer patients were identified as eligible for the study. Among the 551 patients who had data available for matching, 236 patients who did not receive surgery were matched to 54 patients who received surgery. Survival was similar between the groups with a median of 3.4 years in the nonsurgery group and 3.5 years in the surgery group. The groups were similar after adjusting for the presence of lung metastases and use of trastuzumab therapy (HR = 0.94, CI 0.83–1.08, P = 0.38). When matching for the variables associated with a survival benefit in previous studies, surgery was not shown to improve survival in the stage IV setting for this subset
Stage IV breast cancer; Surgery; Survival; Mastectomy
The aim of the current study was to determine the incidence, clinical presentation, and treatment outcomes of "bone-only metastases" in patients with breast cancer and to analyze the impact of hormone receptor (HR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status on prognosis.
Materials and Methods
Between 1994 and 2007, of 968 patients with metastatic breast cancer who underwent palliative management at Samsung Medical Center, 565 (57%) relapsed with distant metastases. Of the 968, 146 (15%) had bone-only metastases during a median follow-up period of 75 months. Among the 146 patients with bone-only metastases, 122 (84%) were relapsed patients after curative surgery and 24 (26%) were initially metastatic cases.
The median time from primary surgery to bone-only metastases of the 122 patients was 37 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 27 to 46 months). Bone-only metastases were more common in the HR-positive group than in the other subtypes (85% for HR+; 8.2% for HER2+; 6.8% for triple negative. Among all 146 patients, 75 (51%) were treated with hormone therapy. The median post-relapse progression-free survival was 15 months (95%CI, 13 to 17 months). The median overall survival was much longer in the HR+ patients than the HER2+ and triple negative breast cancer patients with marginal statistical significance (65 vs. 40 vs. 40 months, p=0.077).
Breast cancer patients with "bone-only metastases" had excellent clinical outcomes. Further study is now warranted to reveal the underlying biology that regulates the behavior of this indolent tumor, as it should identify 'favorable tumor characteristics' in addition to 'favorable preferential metastatic site.'
Bone; Neoplasm metastasis; Breast neoplasms; Estrogen receptors; Progesterone receptors; HER2
Breast cancer is the most frequent malignancy in women accounting for approximately 32% of all cancers, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 10. It causes considerable morbidity and mortality. Recently, the survival rate has dramatically increased due to early detection of the disease and improvement in the treatment measures. However, more than 30% of the patients develop metastatic diseases following surgical treatment, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, or chemotherapy. Distant spread is usually found in bones, lungs, liver, brain and skin. Rarely, it spreads to bowel, spleen, gallbladder, pancreas, urinary bladder, and eyes. Breast cancer is the second commonest primary tumour responsible for gastrointestinal metastases after malignant melanoma. We report a case of a Caucasian female who developed an intestinal obstruction secondary to metastatic deposits to the small bowel and later to the rectum from breast lobular carcinoma 2 years after mastectomy, axillary clearance, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, and transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap for reconstruction.
The BIG 1-98 trial is a large, randomized, independently conducted clinical trial designed to compare the efficacy of upfront letrozole versus tamoxifen monotherapy and to compare sequential or up-front use of letrozole and/or tamoxifen as an early adjuvant therapy for patients with early breast cancer. We report on the results from the primary core analysis of the BIG 1-98 trial of 8,010 patients, which compares monotherapy with letrozole versus tamoxifen. This pre-planned core analysis allowed the use of patient data from the monotherapy arms of letrozole and tamoxifen and from the sequential arms prior to the drug switch point. Patients randomized to letrozole had a 19% improved disease-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.81; P = 0.003), due especially to reduced distant metastases (HR = 0.73; P = 0.001). A 14% risk reduction of fatal events in favor of letrozole was also observed (P = NS). The results from the monotherapy arms alone confirmed the findings from the primary core analysis. Based on the results from this trial, the aromatase inhibitor letrozole (Femara®) is currently recommended as a part of standard adjuvant therapy for postmenopausal women with endocrine-responsive breast cancer and has recently been approved in the early adjuvant setting in both Europe and the United States. A subsequent analysis after additional follow-up will address the question of monotherapy versus sequential therapy.
Adjuvant therapy; Aromatase inhibitor; Breast cancer; BIG 1-98; Letrozole; Tamoxifen
In premenopausal women, endocrine adjuvant therapy for breast cancer primarily consists of tamoxifen alone or with ovarian suppressive strategies. Toremifene is a chlorinated derivative of tamoxifen, but with a superior risk-benefit profile. In this retrospective study, we sought to establish the role of toremifene as an endocrine therapy for premenopausal patients with estrogen and/or progesterone receptor positive breast cancer besides tamoxifen.
Patients with early invasive breast cancer were selected from the breast tumor registries at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital (China). Premenopausal patients with endocrine responsive breast cancer who underwent standard therapy and adjuvant therapy with toremifene or tamoxifen were considered eligible. Patients with breast sarcoma, carcinosarcoma, concurrent contralateral primary breast cancer, or with distant metastases at diagnosis, or those who had not undergone surgery and endocrine therapy were ineligible. Overall survival and recurrence-free survival were the primary outcomes measured. Toxicity data was also collected and compared between the two groups.
Of the 810 patients reviewed, 452 patients were analyzed in the study: 240 received tamoxifen and 212 received toremifene. The median and mean follow up times were 50.8 and 57.3 months, respectively. Toremifene and tamoxifen yielded similar overall survival values, with 5-year overall survival rates of 100% and 98.4%, respectively (p = 0.087). However, recurrence-free survival was significantly better in the toremifene group than in the tamoxifen group (p = 0.022). Multivariate analysis showed that recurrence-free survival improved independently with toremifene (HR = 0.385, 95% CI = 0.154-0.961; p = 0.041). Toxicity was similar in the two treatment groups with no women experiencing severe complications, other than hot flashes, which was more frequent in the toremifene patients (p = 0.049). No patients developed endometrial cancer.
Toremifene may be a valid and safe alternative to tamoxifen in premenopausal women with endocrine-responsive breast cancer.
Tamoxifen; Toremifene; Breast cancer; Adjuvant endocrine therapy; Premenopausal
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is characterized by a combination of tumor growth, proliferation and metastatic progression and is typically managed with palliative intent. The benefit of standard systemic therapies is relatively limited and the disease is considered incurable suggesting the need to investigate the biological drivers of the various phases of the metastatic process in order to improve the selection of molecularly driven therapies. The detection, enumeration and molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) provide an intriguing opportunity to advance this knowledge. CTCs enumerated by the Food and Drugs Administration-cleared CellSearch® system are an independent prognostic factor of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in MBC patients. Several published papers demonstrated the poor prognosis for MBC patients that presented basal CTC count ≥5 in 7.5 mL of blood. Therefore, the enumeration of CTCs during treatment for MBC provides a tool with the ability to predict progression of disease earlier than standard timing of anatomical assessment using conventional radiological tests. During the metastatic process cancer cells exhibit morphological and phenotypic plasticity undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). This important phenomenon is associated with down regulation of epithelial marker (e.g., EpCAM) with potential limitations in the applicability of current CTCs enrichment methods. Such observations translated in a number of investigations aimed at improving our capabilities to enumerate and perform molecular characterization of CTCs. Theoretically, the phenotypic analysis of CTCs can represent a “liquid” biopsy of breast tumor that is able to identify a new potential target against the metastatic disease and advanced the development and monitoring of personalized therapies.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs); metastatic breast cancer (MBC); epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT); cancer stem cells
Breast cancer is a prevalent disease and a major cause of morbidity and cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. A significant number of patients at the time of primary diagnosis present metastatic disease, at least to locoregional lymph nodes, which results in somewhat unpredictable prognosis that often prompts adjuvant systemic therapies of various kinds. The time course of distant recurrence is also unpredictable with some patients sustaining a recurrence within months after diagnosis, even during adjuvant treatments, while others can experience recurrence years or decades after initial diagnosis. To date, clinically approved therapeutics yielded marginal benefits for patients with systemic metastatic breast disease, since despite high clinical responses to various therapies, the patients virtually always become resistant and tumor relapses. Molecular profiling studies established that breast cancer is highly heterogeneous and encompasses diverse histological and molecular subtypes with distinct biological and clinical implications in particular in relation to the incidence of progression to metastasis. The latter has been recognized to result from late genetic events during the multistep progression proposed by the dominant theory of carcinogenesis. However, there is evidence that the dissemination of primary cancer can also be initiated at a very early stage of cancer development, originating from rare cell variants, possibly cancer stem-like cells (CSC), with invasive potential. These precursor metastatic cancer cells with stem-like properties are defined by their ability to self-renew and to regenerate cell variants, which have high plasticity and intrinsic invasive properties required for dissemination and tropism toward specific organs. Equally relevant to the CSC hypothesis for metastasis formation is the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process, which is critical for the acquisition of cancer cell invasive behavior and for selection/gain of CSC properties. These exciting concepts have led to the formulation of various approaches for targeting precursor metastatic cells, and these have taken on greater priority in therapeutic drug discovery research by both academia and pharmaceuticals. In this review, we focus on current efforts in medicinal chemistry to develop small molecules able to target precursor metastatic cells via interference with the CSC/EMT differentiation program, self-renewal, and survival. It is not meant to be comprehensive and the reader is referred to selected reviews that provide coverage of related basic aspects. Rather, emphasis is given to promising molecules with CSC/EMT signaling at the preclinical stage and in clinical trials that are paving the way to new generations of anti-metastasis drugs.
Breast cancer; metastasis; cancer stem cells; EMT; experimental therapy
Estrogen deprivation therapy with aromatase inhibitors (AI) has been hypothesized to paradoxically sensitize hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer tumor cells to low-dose estradiol therapy.
To determine if estradiol 6-mg daily is a viable endocrine therapy for postmenopausal women with advanced AI-resistant hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Design, Setting and Patients
A randomized Phase 2 trial of 6-mg versus 30-mg oral estradiol daily opened in April 2004 and was closed to enrollment in February 2008 (NCT00324259). Eligible patients had metastatic breast cancer treated with an AI with at least 24 weeks progression-free survival, or relapse after two or more years of adjuvant AI. Patients at high risk of estradiol-related adverse events were excluded.
Main Outcome Measures
The primary endpoint was clinical benefit rate – CBR (response plus stable disease at 24 weeks). Secondary outcomes included toxicity, progression-free survival (PFS), time to treatment failure (TTF), quality of life (QOL) and the predictive properties of the FDG-PET metabolic flare reaction.
66 patients were enrolled. The grade 3+ adverse event rate on the 30-mg arm (11/32; 95% CI: 23%–47%) was higher than that in 6-mg arm (4/34; 95% CI: 5%–22%) (P=.03). CBRs were 28% (9/32; 95% CI: 18% – 41%) on the 30-mg arm and 29% (10/34; 95% CI: 19% – 42%) on the 6-mg arm. An estradiol44 stimulated increase in FDG uptake of ≥12% (prospectively defined) was predictive of response (positive predictive value of 80%; 95% CI: 61%–92%). Seven patients with estradiol-sensitive disease were retreated with AI upon estradiol progression, with two PR and one SD, suggesting resensitization to estrogen deprivation.
In women with advanced breast cancer and acquired resistance to AI, an estradiol dose of 6-mg daily provided a similar CBR as 30-mg daily, with fewer serious adverse events. The efficacy of treatment with the lower dose should be further examined in phase 3 clinical trials
Some molecular subtypes of breast cancer have preferential sites of distant relapse. The protein expression pattern of the primary tumor may influence the first distant metastasis site.
We identified from the files of the Finnish Cancer Registry patients diagnosed with breast cancer in five geographical regions Finland in 1991-1992, reviewed the hospital case records, and collected primary tumor tissue. Out of the 2,032 cases identified, 234 developed distant metastases after a median follow-up time of 2.7 years and had the first metastatic site documented (a total of 321 sites). Primary tumor microarray (TMA) cores were analyzed for 17 proteins using immunohistochemistry and for erbB2 using chromogenic in situ hybridization, and their associations with the first metastasis site were examined. The cancers were classified into luminal A, luminal B, HER2+ enriched, basal-like or non-expressor subtypes.
A total of 3,886 TMA cores were analyzed. Luminal A cancers had a propensity to give rise first to bone metastases, HER2-enriched cancers to liver and lung metastases, and basal type cancers to liver and brain metastases. Primary tumors that gave first rise to bone metastases expressed frequently estrogen receptor (ER) and SNAI1 (SNAIL) and rarely COX2 and HER2, tumors with first metastases in the liver expressed infrequently SNAI1, those with lung metastases expressed frequently the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), cytokeratin-5 (CK5) and HER2, and infrequently progesterone receptor (PgR), tumors with early skin metastases expressed infrequently E-cadherin, and breast tumors with first metastases in the brain expressed nestin, prominin-1 and CK5 and infrequently ER and PgR.
Breast tumor biological subtypes have a tendency to give rise to first distant metastases at certain body sites. Several primary tumor proteins were associated with homing of breast cancer cells.
The metastasis of breast cancer to the brain and central nervous system (CNS) is a problem of increasing importance. As improving treatments continue to extend patient survival, the incidence of CNS metastases from breast cancer is on the rise. New treatments are needed, as current treatments are limited by deleterious side effects and are generally palliative. We have previously described an oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV), designated M002, which lacks both copies of the γ134.5 neurovirulence gene and carries a murine interleukin 12 (IL-12) expression cassette, and have validated its antitumor efficacy in a variety of preclinical models of primary brain tumors. However, M002 has not been yet evaluated for use against metastatic brain tumors. Here, we demonstrate the following: both human breast cancer and murine mammary carcinoma cells support viral replication and IL-12 expression from M002; M002 replicates in and destroys breast cancer cells from a variety of histological subtypes, including “triple-negative” and HER2 overexpressing; M002 improves survival in an immunocompetent model more effectively than does a non-cytokine control virus. Thus, we conclude from this proof-of-principle study that a γ134.5-deleted IL-12 expressing oncolytic HSV may be a potential new therapy for breast cancer brain metastases.
Metastatic dormancy, or the ability of cancer cells to survive but not progress in metastatic environments, is now recognized to be a common occurrence in cancer.
From a clinical perspective, this phenomenon is common in metastatic well-differentiated thyroid cancer, whereby patients often present with distant metastases that remain stable for years after removal of the primary tumor and subsequent treatment. Experimental data suggest that metastases can develop throughout the life of a cancer and that progression in the distant environment depends on the biology of the cancer cells that metastasize as well as that of the various microenvironments they encounter. A firm understanding of how thyroid cancer cell progression is regulated in different metastatic environments is necessary to devise effective therapies targeting progressive metastatic thyroid cancer.
In this review, current models of metastatic progression and factors that regulate late-stage metastatic progression that are particularly relevant for thyroid cancer are discussed.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and this prevalence has a major impact on health worldwide. Localized breast cancer has an excellent prognosis, with a 5-year relative survival rate of 85%. However, the survival rate drops to only 23% for women with distant metastases. To date, the study of breast cancer metastasis has been hampered by a lack of reliable metastatic models. Here we describe a novel in vivo model using human breast cancer xenografts in NOD scid gamma (NSG) mice; in this model human breast cancer cells reliably metastasize to distant organs from primary tumors grown within the mammary fat pad. This model enables the study of the entire metastatic process from the proper anatomical site, providing an important new approach to examine the mechanisms underlying breast cancer metastasis. We used this model to identify gene expression changes that occur at metastatic sites relative to the primary mammary fat pad tumor. By comparing multiple metastatic sites and independent cell lines, we have identified several gene expression changes that may be important for tumor growth at distant sites.
Background: Peritumoral vascular invasion (PVI) may assist in assigning optimal adjuvant systemic therapy for women with early breast cancer.
Patients and methods: Patients participated in two International Breast Cancer Study Group randomized trials testing chemoendocrine adjuvant therapies in premenopausal (trial VIII) or postmenopausal (trial IX) node-negative breast cancer. PVI was assessed by institutional pathologists and/or central review on hematoxylin–eosin-stained slides in 99% of patients (analysis cohort 2754 patients, median follow-up >9 years).
Results: PVI, present in 23% of the tumors, was associated with higher grade tumors and larger tumor size (trial IX only). Presence of PVI increased locoregional and distant recurrence and was significantly associated with poorer disease-free survival. The adverse prognostic impact of PVI in trial VIII was limited to premenopausal patients with endocrine-responsive tumors randomized to therapies not containing goserelin, and conversely the beneficial effect of goserelin was limited to patients whose tumors showed PVI. In trial IX, all patients received tamoxifen: the adverse prognostic impact of PVI was limited to patients with receptor-negative tumors regardless of chemotherapy.
Conclusion: Adequate endocrine adjuvant therapy appears to abrogate the adverse impact of PVI in node-negative disease, while PVI may identify patients who will benefit particularly from adjuvant therapy.
adjuvant therapy; breast cancer; endocrine responsiveness; metastasis; prognosis; vascular invasion
Several large prospective and retrospective studies have demonstrated excellent long-term outcomes after breast conservative treatment with radiation in invasive breast cancer. Breast-conserving surgery (BCS) followed by radiotherapy (RT) is an accepted management strategy for patients with DCIS. Adding radiation treatment after conservative surgery enables to reduce, without any significant risks, the rate of local recurrence (LR) by approximately 50% in retrospective and randomized clinical trials. As about 50% of LRs are invasive and have a negative psychological impact, minimizing recurrence is important. Local and local-regional recurrences after initial breast conservation treatment with radiation can be salvaged with high rates of survival and freedom from distant metastases.
Morbidity and mortality in breast cancer patients are mainly caused by organ failure as a result of distant metastasis. The main target of metastatic disease is the skeleton (next to lungs and liver). Osseous metastases are diagnosed in 75-80% of all women who die due to breast cancer; and the skeleton is the primary metastatic target organ in more than half of these cases. In Germany, the incidence of breast cancer patients with newly diagnosed bone metastases is approximately 11–12,000 cases. Prevalence might amount to 40,000 cases of women with breast cancer and osseous metastases at a median survival time of 3–4 years. The treatment goal at this stage of the disease comprises improvement of quality of life, and reduction of bone pain and typical complications like fractures and hypercalcemia. By consistent use of bisphosphonates these goals can be accomplished. Bisphosphonates improve bone pain significantly and reduce the number of skeletal-related events in women with bone metastases. Bisphosphonates can be administered intravenously or orally, and are well tolerated. Nevertheless, there are side effects and complications including acute phase reaction, nephrotoxicity, osteonecrosis of the jaw, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Bisphosphonates; Clodronate; Pamidronate; Ibandronate; Zoledronic acid; Breast cancer, Metastatic bone disease; Osteonecrosis of the jaw
Approximately 10% of new breast cancer patients will present with overt synchronous metastatic disease. The optimal local management of those patients is controversial. Several series suggest that removal of the primary tumour is associated with a survival benefit, but the retrospective nature of those studies raises considerable methodologic challenges. We evaluated our clinical experience with the management of such patients and, more specifically, the impact of surgery in patients with synchronous metastasis.
We reviewed patients with primary breast cancer and concurrent distant metastases seen at our centre between 2005 and 2007. Demographic and treatment data were collected. Study endpoints included overall survival and symptomatic local progression rates.
The 111 patients identified had a median follow-up of 40 months (range: 0.6–71 months). We allocated the patients to one ot two groups: a nonsurgical group (those who did not have breast surgery, n = 63) and a surgical group (those who did have surgery, n = 48, 29 of whom had surgery before the metastatic diagnosis). When compared with patients in the nonsurgical group, patients in the surgical group were less likely to present with T4 tumours (23% vs. 35%), N3 nodal disease (8% vs. 19%), and visceral metastasis (67% vs. 73%). Patients in the surgical group experienced longer overall survival (49 months vs. 33 months, p = 0.01) and lower rates of symptomatic local progression (14% vs. 44%, p < 0.001).
In our study, improved overall survival and symptomatic local control were demonstrated in the surgically treated patients; however, this group had less aggressive disease at presentation. The optimal local management of patients with metastatic breast cancer remains unknown. An ongoing phase iii trial, E2108, has been designed to assess the effect of breast surgery in metastatic patients responding to first-line systemic therapy. If excision of the primary tumour is associated with a survival benefit, then the preselected subgroup of patients who have responded to initial systemic therapy is the desired population in which to put this hypothesis to the test.
Metastatic breast cancer; surgery; local excision
Patients with metastatic or stage IV breast cancer have limited therapeutic options, and the mainstay of treatment remains systemic chemotherapy. Traditionally, the role of surgery has been confined to strict palliation. Improvements in the efficacy of chemotherapeutic regimens, coupled with the use of hormonal and targeted therapy, have resulted in an expansion of surgical resection beyond simple palliation. Several single-institution studies have reported improved survival and even long-term cures after surgical resection for oligometastatic stage IV breast cancer. Similarly, provocative new data suggest that removal of the primary tumor in some patients may confer a survival advantage. The aim of this review is to summarize studies in the medical literature pertaining to the use of surgical resection in patients with stage IV breast cancer. We believe there is enough evidence to challenge conventional thinking about the role of surgery in stage IV breast cancer and to consider a new multimodality treatment paradigm to optimize patient outcomes. It is time to conduct a carefully designed randomized trial to see whether surgery in stage IV breast cancer does indeed warrant a second look.
In breast cancer, amplification of MYC is consistently observed in aggressive forms of disease and correlates with poor prognosis and distant metastases. However, to date, a systematic analysis of MYC amplification in metastatic breast cancers has not been reported. Specifically, whether the MYC amplification status may change in metastases in comparison to the corresponding primary breast tumor, and potential variability among different metastases within the same patient have also not been assessed. We generated single patient tissue microarrays consisting of both primary breast carcinomas and multiple matched systemic metastases from 15 patients through our previously described rapid autopsy program. In total, the 15 tissue microarrays contained 145 primary tumor spots and 778 spots derived from 180 different metastases. In addition, 2 separate tissue microarrays were constructed composed of 10 matched primary breast cancers and corresponding solitary metastases sampled not at autopsy but rather in routine surgical resections. These 2 tissue microarrays totaled 50 primary tumor spots and 86 metastatic tumor spots. For each case, hormone receptor status, HER2/neu, EGFR and CK5/6 expression were assessed, and the cases were characterized as luminal, basal-like or HER2 based on published criteria. Both fluorescence in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for MYC was performed on all cases. Of the 25 cases, 24 were evaluable. While 4 of 24 primary tumors (16%) demonstrated MYC amplification, an additional 6 (25% of total evaluable cases) acquired MYC amplification in their systemic metastases. Of note, there was remarkably little heterogeneity in MYC copy number among different metastases from the same patient. MYC immunoreactivity was increased in metastases relative to matched primaries in the surgical cohort, though there was not a perfect correlation with MYC amplification. In conclusion, amplification of MYC is a frequent event in breast cancer, but occurs more frequently as a diffuse, acquired event in metastatic disease than in the corresponding primary. These observations underscore the importance of MYC in breast cancer progression/metastasis, as well as its relevance as a potential therapeutic target in otherwise incurable metastatic disease.
Disseminated tumour cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow of patients with breast cancer have been identified as an independent predictor of poor prognosis in patients with non-metastatic disease. This prospective study aimed to evaluate the presence and prognostic value of DTCs in the bone marrow of female patients with primary breast cancer.
Between 1999 and 2003, bone marrow aspirates were obtained from patients at the time of surgery for primary invasive breast cancer. DTCs in bone marrow were identified using monoclonal antibodies against cytokeratins for detection of epithelial cells. The detection of DTCs was related to clinical follow-up with distant disease-free survival (DDFS) and breast cancer-specific survival as endpoints. Bone marrow aspirates from adult healthy bone marrow donors were analysed separately.
DTCs were analysed in 401 patients, and cytokeratin-positive cells were found in 152 of these (38%). An immunofluorescence (IF) staining procedure was used in 327 patients, and immunocytochemistry (IC) was performed in 74 patients. The IF-based method resulted in 40% DTC-positive cases, whereas 30% were positive using IC (p = 0.11). The presence of DTCs in bone marrow was not significantly related to patient or tumour characteristics. The presence of DTCs was not a prognostic factor for DDFS (IF: hazards ratio [HR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63–2.2; p = 0.60; IC: HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.09–8.1; p = 0.88). Significant prognostic factors were lymph node metastases, oestrogen receptor positivity, Nottingham histological grade, and tumour size using Cox univariate analysis. The analyses were positive for epithelial cells in bone marrow from adult healthy donors in 19 (25%) samples.
The detection of DTCs in bone marrow in primary breast cancer was previously shown to be a predictor of poor prognosis. We were not able to confirm these results in a prospective cohort including unselected patients before the standard procedure was established. Future studies with a standardised patient protocol and improved technique for isolating and detecting DTCs may reveal the clinical applications of DTC detection in patients with micrometastases in the bone marrow.
Breast cancer; Disseminated tumour cells; Cytokeratin-positive cells; Micrometastases; Prognosis
Aberrant expression of E-cadherin has been associated with the development of metastases in patients with breast cancer. Even though the expression of E-cadherin has been studied in primary breast tumors, little is known about its expression at the distant metastatic sites. We investigate the relationship between E-cadherin expression in primary breast carcinoma and their distant, non-nodal metastases.
Immunohistochemical analysis of E-cadherin was performed in tissues from 30 patients with primary invasive breast carcinoma and their distant metastases. E-cadherin expression was evaluated as normal or aberrant (decreased when compared with normal internal positive controls, or absent).
Twenty-two (73%) invasive carcinomas were ductal, and eight (27%) were lobular. Of the primary invasive ductal carcinomas, 55% (12/22) had normal E-cadherin expression and 45% (10/22) had aberrant expression. All of the metastases expressed E-cadherin with the same intensity as (12 tumors) or with stronger intensity than (10 tumors) the corresponding primaries. Of the invasive lobular carcinomas, one of eight (12%) primary carcinomas and none of the metastases expressed E-cadherin in the cell membranes, but they accumulated the protein in the cytoplasm.
Aberrant E-cadherin expression is frequent in invasive ductal carcinomas that progress to develop distant metastases. Distant metastases consistently express E-cadherin, often more strongly than the primary tumor. Invasive lobular carcinomas have a different pattern of E-cadherin expression, suggesting a different role for E-cadherin in this form of breast carcinoma.
breast cancer; e-cadherin; metastases
The heterogeneity of metastatic breast cancer mandates the need to select therapies taking into account tumor and patient characteristics. Chemotherapy is indicated in the palliative setting especially when the disease is unresponsive to hormonal therapy or is hormone-receptor negative. The main chemotherapeutic agents are anthracyclines, taxanes, and capecitabine. The knowledge of the effects of currently approved agents and of the biology of breast cancer have paved the way for the evaluation of new treatment options, among which are anti-angiogenic agents. Angiogenesis inhibition has resulted in clinically significant improvements in the outcome of a variety of malignancies, including breast cancer. Bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is the most extensively studied anti-angiogenic compound. According to the results of a phase III trial in patients with untreated metastatic breast cancer, bevacizumab increases both objective response rate and median progression-free survival when combined with standard chemotherapy vs chemotherapy alone. The combination of anti-angiogenic drugs and other biologic agents is also being explored in an attempt to improve efficacy.
angiogenesis; bevacizumab; breast cancer; monoclonal antibody
Experimental and clinical data show that the oral bisphosphonate clodronate (Bonefos®) can inhibit tumor-induced osteoclastic bone resorption. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial was designed to determine if the addition of oral clodronate to standard treatment for primary operable breast cancer could reduce the subsequent occurrence of bone metastases and thereby improve overall survival.
1,069 patients with primary operable stage I-III breast cancer were randomized to receive oral clodronate (1,600 mg/day) or placebo for 2 years, in conjunction with standard treatment for primary breast cancer including surgery, radiotherapy, adjuvant chemotherapy, and/or tamoxifen. All patients were assessed for bone metastases at two and five years and additionally when clinically indicated. Survival status was determined as of the close of the study on 30 June 2000 with a median follow up of 5.6 years. The treatment arms were compared using the unstratified log-rank test. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Oral clodronate significantly reduced the risk of bone metastases in all patients over the 5 year study period (51 patients versus 73 patients with placebo; HR = 0.692, P = 0.043); the difference was also statistically significant over the 2 year medication period (19 patients versus 35 patients with placebo; HR = 0.546, P = 0.031). These differences were most pronounced in patients with stage II/III disease (39 patients versus 64 patients with placebo, HR = 0.592, P = 0.009 over 5 years; 16 patients versus 32 patients with placebo, HR= 0.496, P = 0.020 over 2 years). Survival data also favoured the clodronate arm (HR for all patients = 0.768, P = 0.048; HR for stage II/III disease = 0.743, P = 0.041), although this was not significant due to multiple analyses. Oral clodronate was well tolerated, with mild-to-moderate diarrhoea being the most frequently reported adverse event.
These results confirm that oral clodronate will significantly improve the 5 year bone relapse free survival when used as a supplementary adjuvant treatment for patients receiving standard treatment for primary operable breast cancer.
Tumor metastases pose the greatest threat to a patient's survival, and thus, understanding the biology of disseminated cancer cells is critical for developing effective therapies.
Microarrays and immunohistochemistry were used to analyze primary breast tumors, regional (lymph node) metastases, and distant metastases in order to identify biological features associated with distant metastases.
When compared with each other, primary tumors and regional metastases showed statistically indistinguishable gene expression patterns. Supervised analyses comparing patients with distant metastases versus primary tumors or regional metastases showed that the distant metastases were distinct and distinguished by the lack of expression of fibroblast/mesenchymal genes, and by the high expression of a 13-gene profile (that is, the 'vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) profile') that included VEGF, ANGPTL4, ADM and the monocarboxylic acid transporter SLC16A3. At least 8 out of 13 of these genes contained HIF1α binding sites, many are known to be HIF1α-regulated, and expression of the VEGF profile correlated with HIF1α IHC positivity. The VEGF profile also showed prognostic significance on tests of sets of patients with breast and lung cancer and glioblastomas, and was an independent predictor of outcomes in primary breast cancers when tested in models that contained other prognostic gene expression profiles and clinical variables.
These data identify a compact in vivo hypoxia signature that tends to be present in distant metastasis samples, and which portends a poor outcome in multiple tumor types.
This signature suggests that the response to hypoxia includes the ability to promote new blood and lymphatic vessel formation, and that the dual targeting of multiple cell types and pathways will be needed to prevent metastatic spread.
The combination of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (AC) is a standard adjuvant regimen. Doxorubicin and docetaxel (AT) is one of the most active cytotoxic regimens for metastatic breast cancer. The purpose of this trial was to determine whether adjuvant AT improved disease-free survival compared with AC in operable breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
Women with invasive breast cancer were eligible if there were one to three positive lymph nodes or if the node-negative tumor was greater than 1 cm. Patients were randomly assigned after surgery to receive doxorubicin (60 mg/m2) plus either cyclophosphamide (600 mg/m2; AC) or docetaxel (60 mg/m2; AT) given every 3 weeks for four cycles, followed by hormone therapy for patients with estrogen receptor (ER) and/or progesterone receptor (PR)–positive tumors.
There were 2,882 eligible patients enrolled. After a median follow-up of 79.5 months, there was no significant difference in disease-free survival (DFS; 85% in both arms) or overall survival (91% v 92%) at 5 years. The hazard ratio for AC versus AT was 1.02 (95% CI for DFS, 0.86 to 1.22; P = .78). In an exploratory analysis of prespecified stratification factors by ER and PR expression there were trends toward improved DFS for AT in ER/PR-negative disease. Grade 3 neutropenia associated with fever or infection occurred more often with AT (26% v 10%; P < .05).
AT did not improve DFS or overall survival in this population, and was associated with more toxicity.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary tumor of bone and accounts for approximately 19% of all malignant tumors of bone. It is the third most common malignant tumor in teenagers. More than twenty years ago, the advent of a multidisciplinary approach that combined multi-agent chemotherapy and limb-sparing surgery greatly improved the survival rate of patients with osteosarcoma. Unfortunately, since that time, survival rates have not dramatically improved. To date, the most powerful predictors of outcome have remained the ability to detect metastatic disease at diagnosis and the histopathologic response of the tumor to preoperative chemotherapy. Presently, 80% of patients who do not have distant metastases at initial diagnosis will become long-term survivors. Unfortunately, this means that approximately 20% of patients who do not present with metastases at diagnosis will not survive. This group of patients appears to be resistant to current treatment as attempts to intensify therapy after surgery for patients with a poor histopathologic response has not significantly improved survival rates. It is these patients that are in the greatest need of additional clinically relevant markers for prognosis and who can be most helped by molecular analysis. While steady progress has been made in the identification of genetic alterations in osteosarcoma, no individual molecular marker has thus far been demonstrated to have a better prognostic significance in the treatment of osteosarcomas than the current clinical markers. Thus there is clearly a need to employ new comprehensive analysis technologies to develop significantly more informative classification systems and to identify new therapeutic targets.
Osteosarcoma; Chemotherapy; Biomarkers; High-throughput screening