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1.  DEAR1 Is a Dominant Regulator of Acinar Morphogenesis and an Independent Predictor of Local Recurrence-Free Survival in Early-Onset Breast Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(5):e1000068.
Ann Killary and colleagues describe a new gene that is genetically altered in breast tumors, and that may provide a new breast cancer prognostic marker.
Background
Breast cancer in young women tends to have a natural history of aggressive disease for which rates of recurrence are higher than in breast cancers detected later in life. Little is known about the genetic pathways that underlie early-onset breast cancer. Here we report the discovery of DEAR1 (ductal epithelium–associated RING Chromosome 1), a novel gene encoding a member of the TRIM (tripartite motif) subfamily of RING finger proteins, and provide evidence for its role as a dominant regulator of acinar morphogenesis in the mammary gland and as an independent predictor of local recurrence-free survival in early-onset breast cancer.
Methods and Findings
Suppression subtractive hybridization identified DEAR1 as a novel gene mapping to a region of high-frequency loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in a number of histologically diverse human cancers within Chromosome 1p35.1. In the breast epithelium, DEAR1 expression is limited to the ductal and glandular epithelium and is down-regulated in transition to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early histologic stage in breast tumorigenesis. DEAR1 missense mutations and homozygous deletion (HD) were discovered in breast cancer cell lines and tumor samples. Introduction of the DEAR1 wild type and not the missense mutant alleles to complement a mutation in a breast cancer cell line, derived from a 36-year-old female with invasive breast cancer, initiated acinar morphogenesis in three-dimensional (3D) basement membrane culture and restored tissue architecture reminiscent of normal acinar structures in the mammary gland in vivo. Stable knockdown of DEAR1 in immortalized human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) recapitulated the growth in 3D culture of breast cancer cell lines containing mutated DEAR1, in that shDEAR1 clones demonstrated disruption of tissue architecture, loss of apical basal polarity, diffuse apoptosis, and failure of lumen formation. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining of a tissue microarray from a cohort of 123 young female breast cancer patients with a 20-year follow-up indicated that in early-onset breast cancer, DEAR1 expression serves as an independent predictor of local recurrence-free survival and correlates significantly with strong family history of breast cancer and the triple-negative phenotype (ER−, PR−, HER-2−) of breast cancers with poor prognosis.
Conclusions
Our data provide compelling evidence for the genetic alteration and loss of expression of DEAR1 in breast cancer, for the functional role of DEAR1 in the dominant regulation of acinar morphogenesis in 3D culture, and for the potential utility of an immunohistochemical assay for DEAR1 expression as an independent prognostic marker for stratification of early-onset disease.
Editors' Summary
Background
Each year, more than one million women discover that they have breast cancer. This type of cancer begins when cells in the breast that line the milk-producing glands or the tubes that take the milk to the nipples (glandular and ductal epithelial cells, respectively) acquire genetic changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). The uncontrolled 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 patients very ill. Generally speaking, the outlook for women with breast cancer is good. In the US, for example, nearly 90% of affected women are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although breast cancer is usually diagnosed in women in their 50s or 60s, some women develop breast cancer much earlier. In these women, the disease is often very aggressive. Compared to older women, young women with breast cancer have a lower overall survival rate and their cancer is more likely to recur locally or to metastasize. It would be useful to be able to recognize those younger women at the greatest risk of cancer recurrence so that they could be offered intensive surveillance and adjuvant therapy; those women at a lower risk could have gentler treatments. To achieve this type of “stratification,” the genetic changes that underlie breast cancer in young women need to be identified. In this study, the researchers discover a gene that is genetically altered (by mutations or deletion) in early-onset breast cancer and then investigate whether its expression can predict outcomes in women with this disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “suppression subtractive hybridization” to identify a new gene in a region of human Chromosome 1 where loss of heterozygosity (LOH; a genetic alteration associated with cancer development) frequently occurs. They called the gene DEAR1 (ductal epithelium-associated RING Chromosome 1) to indicate that it is expressed in ductal and glandular epithelial cells and encodes a “RING finger” protein (specifically, a subtype called a TRIM protein; RING finger proteins such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been implicated in early cancer development and in a large fraction of inherited breast cancers). DEAR1 expression was reduced or lost in several ductal carcinomas in situ (a local abnormality that can develop into breast cancer) and advanced breast cancers, the researchers report. Furthermore, many breast tumors carried DEAR1 missense mutations (genetic changes that interfere with the normal function of the DEAR1 protein) or had lost both copies of DEAR1 (the human genome contains two copies of most genes). To determine the function of DEAR1, the researchers replaced a normal copy of DEAR1 into a breast cancer cell that had a mutation in DEAR1. They then examined the growth of these genetically manipulated cells in special three-dimensional cultures. The breast cancer cells without DEAR1 grew rapidly without an organized structure while the breast cancer cells containing the introduced copy of DEAR1 formed structures that resembled normal breast acini (sac-like structures that secrete milk). In normal human mammary epithelial cells, the researchers silenced DEAR1 expression and also showed that without DEAR1, the normal mammary cells lost their ability to form proper acini. Finally, the researchers report that DEAR1 expression (detected “immunohistochemically”) was frequently lost in women who had had early-onset breast cancer and that the loss of DEAR1 expression correlated with reduced local recurrence-free survival, a strong family history of breast cancer and with a breast cancer subtype that has a poor outcome.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that genetic alteration and loss of expression of DEAR1 are common in breast cancer. Although laboratory experiments may not necessarily reflect what happens in people, the results from the three-dimensional culture of breast epithelial cells suggest that DEAR1 may regulate the normal acinar structure of the breast. Consequently, loss of DEAR1 expression could be an early event in breast cancer development. Most importantly, the correlation between DEAR1 expression and both local recurrence in early-onset breast cancer and a breast cancer subtype with a poor outcome suggests that it might be possible to use DEAR1 expression to identify women with early-onset breast cancer who have an increased risk of local recurrence so that they get the most appropriate treatment for their cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000068.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Senthil Muthuswamy
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of breast cancer, including information on genetic alterations in breast cancer (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information for patients about breast cancer; MedlinePlus also provides links to many other breast cancer resources (in English and Spanish)
The UK charities Cancerbackup (now merged with MacMillan Cancer Support) and Cancer Research UK also provide detailed information about breast cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000068
PMCID: PMC2673042  PMID: 19536326
2.  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
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.  Clinicopathologic characteristics of gastric carcinoma in elderly patients: A comparison with young patients 
AIM: To examine the clinicopathologic features of elderly patients with gastric carcinoma and to investigate the relationship between prognosis and age.
METHODS: We reviewed the hospital records of 2014 patients with gastric carcinoma retrospectively to compare the clinicopathologic findings in elderly (age >70 years) and young (age <36 years) patients during the period from 1986 to 2000 in a tertiary referral center in Gwangju, Korea. Overall survival was the main outcome measure.
RESULTS: Of the 2014 patients, 194 (9.6%) were in the elderly group and 137 (6.8%) were in the young group. The elderly and young patients had similar distributions with respect to depth of invasion, nodal involvement, hepatic metastasis, peritoneal dissemination, tumor stage at the initial diagnosis, and type of surgery. Synchronous multiple carcinomas were found in 14/194 (7.2%) of the elderly group and 4/137 (2.9%) of the young group (P<0.05). Using the Borrmann classification, type IV was more frequent in the young patients than in the elderly patients (P<0.05). Significantly more elderly patients had a well or moderately differentiated histology, and more young patients had a poorly differentiated histology and signet ring cell carcinoma (P<0.001). The 5-year survival rates of elderly and young patients did not differ statistically (52.8% vs 46.5%, P = 0.5290). Multivariate analysis showed that the histologic type, nodal involvement and operative curability were significant prognostic factors, and age itself was not an independent prognostic factor of survival for elderly gastric carcinoma patients.
CONCLUSION: Elderly patients with gastric carcinoma do not have a worse prognosis than young patients. The important prognostic factor is whether the patients undergo a curative resection.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v11.i1.22
PMCID: PMC4205377  PMID: 15609390
Gastric carcinomas; Prognosis; Age; Surgery
5.  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
6.  Clinicopathological features and treatment sensitivity of elderly Chinese breast cancer patients 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(6):1037-1043.
This study aimed to determine the clinicopathological features and treatment sensitivity of elderly breast cancer patients in China. The clinical data of 594 elderly breast cancer patients of 70 or more years of age were collected and compared to those of 657 patients of less than 70 years of age to analyze whether breast cancer in the elderly is different and whether the difference affected outcome. The median age was 75.2 years in the elderly patients and 49.8 years in the young patients. Age of menarche, parous status and body mass index were similar in the two groups. A higher frequency of steroid receptor-positive rate, a lower expression of HER-2 and p53, less axillary node-positive rate and earlier tumor stage were found in patients of 70 years or older. The 5-year relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) was 77 and 82% in the elderly and 86 and 93% in the young patients, respectively. Patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive or lymph node (LN)-negative cancers showed a more favorable outcome in the elderly patients. RFS and OS were increased in elderly patients who underwent endocrine therapy or omitted chemotherapy. Breast cancer in the elderly had more favorable tumor features, using estrogen receptor and lymph node status as prognostic factors. It was therefore concluded that adjuvant endocrine therapy may benefit elderly patients, while chemotherapy may not.
doi:10.3892/ol.2010.179
PMCID: PMC3412465  PMID: 22870109
breast cancer; elderly patients; prognostic factor; survival
7.  Being 40 or younger is an independent risk factor for relapse in operable breast cancer patients: The Saudi Arabia experience 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:222.
Background
Breast cancer in young Saudi women is a crucial problem. According to the 2002 annual report of Saudi National Cancer Registry, breast cancers that developed before the age of 40 comprise 26.4% of all female breast cancers comparing to 6.5% in the USA. Breast cancer in young patients is often associated with a poorer prognosis, but there has been a scarcity of published data in the Middle East population.
Methods
Total of 867 breast cancer patients seen at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre (KFSH&RC) between 1986 and 2002 were reviewed. Patients were divided in two age groups: ≤ 40 years and above 40 years. The clinicopathological characteristics and treatment outcomes were compared between younger and older age groups.
Results
Median age at presentation was 45 years. A total of 288 (33.2%) patients were aged ≤ 40 years. Hormone receptors were positive in 69% of patients 40 and 78.2% of patients above 40 (p = 0.009). There was a significantly higher incidence of grade III tumor in younger patients compared to older patients (p = 0.0006). Stage, tumor size, lymphatic/vascular invasion, number of nodes and axillary lymph node status, did not differ significantly between the two age groups. Younger patients had a greater probability of recurrence at all time periods (p = 0.035). Young age had a negative impact on survival of patients with positive axillary lymph nodes (p = 0.030) but not on survival of patients with negative lymph nodes (p = 0.695). Stage, tumor size, nodal status and hormonal receptors had negative impact on survival. Adjuvant chemotherapy was administered to 87.9% of younger and 65.6% of older patients (p < 0.0001). In terms of hormone therapy, the proportion of tamoxifen treated patients was significantly lower in young age group (p < 0.0001). No significant difference in radiation therapy between the two groups.
Conclusion
Young age (≤ 40) is an independent risk factor for relapse in operable Saudi breast cancer patients. The fundamental biology of young age breast cancer patients needs to be elucidated.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-222
PMCID: PMC2222639  PMID: 18053234
8.  Associations between body mass index and molecular subtypes as well as other clinical characteristics of breast cancer in Chinese women 
Background:
Several studies have shown a positive association between body mass index (BMI) and the development of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women; however, the associations between BMI groups and molecular subtypes have yet to be well defined in premenopausal breast cancer patients.
Methods:
A total of 2465 female breast cancer patients diagnosed at our institution were recruited for this study. Clinicopathologic information (including age, body height and weight, as well as tumor subtypes and stages) was collected; analyses of these characteristics and the associations between them were performed.
Results:
A total of 1951 cases were included in the study. The mean age was 47.3 years, the majority of patients were of normal weight, premenopausal, had stage 2 cancer, and did not present with positive nodes. The prevalence of the luminal A, luminal B, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2+, and triple-negative subtypes were 57.8%, 11.6%, 6.1%, and 24.5%, respectively. There were significant differences in the clinicopathologic features among BMI groups in premenopausal patients. The case-only odds ratio (OR) analysis revealed that normal weight patients tended to have luminal B cancer (OR = 1.4, P = 0.206), and overweight and obese patients tended to have triple-negative cancer in premenopausal patients (OR = 2.8, OR = 3.7, respectively; P < 0.001).
Conclusion:
In Chinese women, breast cancer came with these characteristics: young mean age (premenopause), luminal A subtype, and the majority of them were within a normal weight range. In premenopausal patients, underweight patients tended to have luminal A, lower human epidermal growth factor receptor 2+ expression, stage 1 and no positive node cancer. However, overweight and obese patients tended to have a triple-negative, stage 3, and lymph node metastatic cancer.
doi:10.2147/TCRM.S41203
PMCID: PMC3617914  PMID: 23576872
breast cancer; body mass index; molecular subtype; Chinese
9.  Adjuvant Chemotherapy and Survival of Elderly Korean Patients with Breast Carcinoma 
Journal of Breast Cancer  2012;15(3):296-305.
Purpose
The available research work on types of treatment and the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy in older Korean patients is insufficient. Henceforth, this report assessed treatment patterns and the relationship between chemotherapy and survival in elderly Korean breast cancer patients.
Methods
We identified women over 55 years of age diagnosed with breast cancer from the period 1995 to 2006. Clinicopathologic features and treatment methods were compared for three groups divided on the basis of age: 55 to 59 years, 60 to 69 years, and over 70 years old. The effects of chemotherapy on survival were compared overall and individually for each group.
Results
A total of 832 patients over 55 years of age were included in the present investigation. No statistical differences were observed between the three age groups in clinicopathologic features including tumor size, grade, and stage. However, patients in the elderly group received mastectomy more often when compared to the younger groups (p<0.001). In contrast, there was a decline in radiation treatment and chemotherapy with older age (p<0.001). Overall, patients who received chemotherapy had a significantly increased breast cancer specific survival and overall survival rate when compared to the non-chemotherapy groups (p=0.022). Among the estrogen receptor positive group, no statistical significance was achieved in the survival benefit of chemotherapy. However, in estrogen receptor-negative patients, overall, the chemotherapy groups showed a better survival rate than the non-chemotherapy patients and a similar trend was observed in each age group except in the group comprising of 70 years old patients.
Conclusion
This study describes the survival benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in Korean patients over 55 years of age, especially in hormone receptor-negative patients. Hence, based on the results of the present report and considering the similarity of clinicopathologic features between age groups, it is proposed that age alone should not be a determinant factor of treatment methods.
doi:10.4048/jbc.2012.15.3.296
PMCID: PMC3468783  PMID: 23091542
Aged; Breast; Carcinoma; Chemotherapy; Survival
10.  Breast cancer in moroccan young women: a retrospective study 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:286.
Background
Breast cancer is uncommon in young women and induces more aggressive biologic characteristics. Survival in young women has been widely studied in developed countries. Less favorable prognosis and low survival were found.
In Morocco, this study is the first investigation of clinical features, treatment and prognosis associated with breast cancer in young women.
Findings
Four hundred and nine women aged 35 years or less were included in this study. All these women were diagnosed as having breast cancer at the National Institute of Oncology in Rabat, Morocco between 2003 and 2007. The relation between clinical and therapeutic characteristics and event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) were assessed by Cox regression analysis.
The median age of the patients was 32 years. Fifty three patients (13%) have metastatic disease at diagnosis and 356 patients (87%) had localised disease. In 57.9% of the cases, the estrogen receptors status was positive. The median follow-up was 32.2 months. After 3 years the survival rate was 80.6%. In the case of localised disease, OS and EFS at 3 years were 83.2% and 62.5%, respectively. OS and EFS at 3 years was higher in patients with stage I than patients with stage II and stage III (p = 0.001). Positive estrogen receptors was significantly associated to OS and EFS at 3 years compared to negative estrogen receptors (p = 0.001). Adjuvant chemotherapy, adjuvant radiotherapy and adjuvant hormone therapy were associated with net benefit in OS and EFS at 3 years. Cox regression analysis showed that negative ER was significantly associated with poorer OS (HR = 2.42, 95% CI = 1.25 - 4.66, p < 0.009) and poorer EFS (HR = 1.73, 95%CI = 1.05 - 2.86, p = 0.03). Stage III disease were associated to poorer EFS (HR = 5.35, 95%CI = 1.60 -17.84, p = 0.006).
Conclusions
In Morocco, young women with breast cancer had less favorable prognosis. Multivariate analysis showed that negative hormone receptor status was associated with lower EFS and OS. Clinical trials should be launched to improve the survival of these young women with breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-286
PMCID: PMC2992542  PMID: 21059204
11.  Young age: an independent risk factor for disease-free survival in women with operable breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:82.
Background
The incidence of breast cancer in young women (age < 35) is low. The biology of the disease in this age group is poorly understood, and there are conflicting data regarding the prognosis for these women compared to older patients.
Methods
We retrospectively analyzed 2040 consecutive primary invasive breast cancer patients who underwent surgical procedures at our institution between 1990 and 1999. The younger age group was defined as patients aged <35 years at the time of diagnosis. The clinicopathological characteristics and treatment outcomes were compared between younger and older age groups.
Results
A total of 256 (12.5%) patients were aged <35. There was a significantly higher incidence of nuclear grade 3 and medullary histological-type tumors in younger patients compared to older patients. Axillary lymph node status, T stage, histological grade, c-erbB2 expression and estrogen receptor status did not differ significantly between the two age groups. Younger patients had a greater probability of recurrence and death at all time periods. Although there was no significant difference in disease-free survival between the two age groups in lymph node-negative patients, the younger group showed worse prognosis among lymph node-positive patients (p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, young age remained a significant predictor of recurrence (p = 0.010).
Conclusion
Young age (<35) is an independent risk factor for relapse in operable breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-4-82
PMCID: PMC545947  PMID: 15546499
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Unique clinicopathological features of metaplastic breast carcinoma compared with invasive ductal carcinoma and poor prognostic indicators 
Background
Metaplastic breast carcinoma is a rare aggressive malignant neoplasm. The purposes of this study are to review the pathologic features and clinical outcomes of metaplastic breast carcinoma compared to invasive ductal carcinoma and to evaluate the prognosis of metaplastic breast carcinoma.
Methods
The cases of 55 patients with metaplastic breast carcinomapresenting between 1991 and 2006 were analyzed and compared to the cases of 767 age-matched patients with invasive ductal carcinoma from the same time period.
Results
The group of patients with metaplastic breast carcinoma presented with a larger tumor size, lower lymph node involvement, higher percentage of triple-negative (estrogen receptor-, progesterone receptor- and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2-negative) cases, and Ki-67 over-expression compared with the group of patients with invasive ductal carcinoma and triple-negative invasive ductal carcinomas. Patients in the metaplastic breast carcinoma group tended to have more local (often chest wall) recurrences (P = 0.038) and distant (often lung) metastases (P = 0.001) than those in the invasive ductal carcinomas group. The prognosis of metaplastic breast carcinoma was poorer than that of invasive ductal carcinoma and triple-negative invasive ductal carcinomas; the 5-year overall survival rate was 54.5% in metaplastic breast carcinoma versus 85.1% in invasive ductal carcinoma, and 73.3% in triple-negative invasive ductal carcinomas (P <0.001). The 5-year disease-free survival rate was 45.5% in metaplastic breast carcinoma versus 71.2% in invasive ductal carcinoma, and 60.3% in triple-negative invasive ductal carcinomas (P <0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed tumor size larger than 5.0 cm, lymph node involvement and Ki-67≥14% were significantly related to 5-year overall survival (P = 0.010; P = 0.010; P = 0.035) and 5-year disease-free survival (P = 0.020; P = 0.018; P = 0.049).
Conclusions
Metaplastic breast carcinoma shows a poorer prognosis than both invasive ductal carcinoma and triple-negative invasive ductal carcinomas. Tumor size larger than 5.0 cm, lymph node involvement and Ki-67 ≥14% indicate a poor prognosis in patients with metaplastic breast carcinoma.
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-11-129
PMCID: PMC3679991  PMID: 23738706
Breast cancer; Clinical outcomes; Metaplasia; Pathologic features; Prognosis
15.  Overexpression of Rsf-1 correlates with pathological type, p53 status and survival in primary breast cancer 
Aim: The incidence of breast cancer in developing countries still increasing, to identify novel molecular markers associated with carcinogenesis and prognosis of breast cancer still being implemented. The largest subunit of Remodeling and spacing factor (RSF), Rsf-1, mediates ATPase-dependent chromatin remodeling. Its oncogenic properties have been demonstrated in certain carcinomas. The aim of this study was to examine the prognostic value of Rsf-1 in patients with primary breast carcinoma. Methods: A total of 537 patients with primary breast cancer, and 54 with benign breast hyperplasia, were performed resection surgery in the same period were enrolled. Rsf-1 immunoexpression was retrospectively assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC). As well as, it relationship with clinicopathological factors and patient survival (LRFS, DFS and OS) was investigated. Results: Compared with benign breast hyperplasia tissues, higher percentage of Rsf-1 positive expression was detected in malignant breast carcinomas. Based on IHC staining extent × intensity scores and ROC analysis, 278 of 526 cancers (52.9%) had high-expression (cut-off values 2.5) of Rsf-1, which correlated significantly to pathologic subtypes of breast cancer (DCIS vs. IDC, P < 0.001; ILC vs. IDC, P = 0.036), bigger tumor size (P = 0.030), higher TNM stage (P = 0.044), and p53-positive expression. In addition, there was a trend that high-expression of Rsf-1 associated with younger age (P = 0.053). We further prove that combined positive-expression of Rsf-1 and p53 (Rsf-1 (+)/p53 (+)) was correlated with the bigger tumor size (P = 0.018), and higher TNM stage (P = 0.024). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that Rsf-1 high-expression and combined positive-expression of Rsf-1 and p53 (Rsf-1 (+)/p53 (+)) exhibited a significant correlation with poor overall survival of patients with primary breast cancer, and no association has been identified in relation to LRFS or DFS. Especially, Univariate and multivariate survival analysis demonstrated Rsf-1 expression is an independent prognostic parameter for the overall survival of patients with breast cancer. Conclusions: High-expression of Rsf-1 is associated with pathologic subtypes of breast cancer, aggressive phenotype, p53 positive and poor clinical outcome, which confers tumor aggressiveness through chromatin remodeling, and targeting Rsf-1 gene and the pathway it related may provide new therapeutic avenues for treating breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4203172  PMID: 25337201
Rsf-1; p53; breast cancer; chromatin remodeling; prognosis
16.  Forfeited hepatogenesis program and increased embryonic stem cell traits in young hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) comparing to elderly HCC 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:736.
Background
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in young subjects is rare but more devastating. We hypothesize that genes and etiological pathways are unique to young HCC (yHCC; ≤40 years old at diagnosis) patients. We therefore compared the gene expression profiles between yHCCs and HCCs from elderly patients.
Results
All 44 young HCCs (≤40 years old at the diagnosis; 23 cases in the training set while another 21 in the validation cohort) were positive for serum hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), but negative for antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). All 48 elderly (>40 years old; 38 in the training set while another 10 in the validation cohort) HCC patients enrolled were also serum HBsAg positive and anti-HCV negative. Comparative genomics analysis was further performed for elucidating enriched or suppressed biological activities in different HCC subtypes.
The yHCC group showed more macroscopic venous invasions (60.9% vs. 10.5%, p < 0.001), fewer associated cirrhosis (17.4% vs. 63.2%, p < 0.001), and distinct profiles of expressed genes, especially those related to DNA replication and repair. yHCCs possessed increased embryonic stem cell (ESC) traits and were more dedifferentiated. A 309-gene signature was obtained from two training cohorts and validated in another independent data set. The ILF3 ESC gene, which was previously reported in poorly differentiated breast cancers and bladder carcinomas, was also present in yHCCs. Genes associated with HCC suppression, including AR and ADRA1A, were less abundant in yHCCs. ESC genes were also more enriched in advanced HCCs from elderly patients.
Conclusion
This study revealed the molecular makeup of yHCC and the link between ESC traits and HCC subtypes. Findings in elderly tumors, therefore, cannot be simply extrapolated to young patients, and yHCC should be treated differently.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-736
PMCID: PMC3826595  PMID: 24160375
Young hepatocellular carcinoma; Embryonic stem cells; Dedifferentiation
17.  Clinicopathologic Characteristics and Prognosis of Gastric Cancer in Young Patients 
Yonago Acta Medica  2012;55(3):57-61.
To determine the clinicopathologic characteristics and prognosis of gastric cancer in young patients, a total of 1985 gastric cancer patients who had undergone gastrectomy at our hospital were reviewed. The male-to-female ratio was significantly lower in the young patients than in either the middle-aged (P < 0.0001) or elderly patients (P < 0.0001). Undifferentiated carcinoma was observed more frequently in the young patients compared with either the middle-aged (P < 0.0001) or elderly patients (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, peritoneal metastasis was observed more frequently in the young patients than in either the middle-aged (P < 0.005) or elderly patients (P < 0.005). Five-year survival rates were 61.0, 73.6 and 68.1% in the young, middle-aged and elderly patients, respectively. The prognosis of the middle-aged patients was significantly better than that of either the young or the elderly patients (P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis indicated that age was an independent prognostic factor. Peritoneal recurrence was more frequently observed in the young patients than either the middle-aged or the elderly patients (P < 0.05). Gastric cancer in young patients has unique characteristics, namely, a predominance of female patients and a high frequency of undifferentiated cancer and peritoneal metastasis and recurrence.
PMCID: PMC3727677  PMID: 24031140
age; gastric cancer; prognosis
18.  Exquisite Sensitivity of TP53 Mutant and Basal Breast Cancers to a Dose-Dense Epirubicin−Cyclophosphamide Regimen 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e90.
Background
In breast cancers, only a minority of patients fully benefit from the different chemotherapy regimens currently in use. Identification of markers that could predict the response to a particular regimen would thus be critically important for patient care. In cell lines or animal models, tumor protein p53 (TP53) plays a critical role in modulating the response to genotoxic drugs. TP53 is activated in response to DNA damage and triggers either apoptosis or cell-cycle arrest, which have opposite effects on cell fate. Yet, studies linking TP53 status and chemotherapy response have so far failed to unambiguously establish this paradigm in patients. Breast cancers with a TP53 mutation were repeatedly shown to have a poor outcome, but whether this reflects poor response to treatment or greater intrinsic aggressiveness of the tumor is unknown.
Methods and Findings
In this study we analyzed 80 noninflammatory breast cancers treated by frontline (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy. Tumor diagnoses were performed on pretreatment biopsies, and the patients then received six cycles of a dose-dense regimen of 75 mg/m2 epirubicin and 1,200 mg/m2 cyclophosphamide, given every 14 days. After completion of chemotherapy, all patients underwent mastectomies, thus allowing for a reliable assessment of chemotherapy response. The pretreatment biopsy samples were used to determine the TP53 status through a highly efficient yeast functional assay and to perform RNA profiling. All 15 complete responses occurred among the 28 TP53-mutant tumors. Furthermore, among the TP53-mutant tumors, nine out of ten of the highly aggressive basal subtypes (defined by basal cytokeratin [KRT] immunohistochemical staining) experienced complete pathological responses, and only TP53 status and basal subtype were independent predictors of a complete response. Expression analysis identified many mutant TP53-associated genes, including CDC20, TTK, CDKN2A, and the stem cell gene PROM1, but failed to identify a transcriptional profile associated with complete responses among TP53 mutant tumors. In patients with unresponsive tumors, mutant TP53 status predicted significantly shorter overall survival. The 15 patients with responsive TP53-mutant tumors, however, had a favorable outcome, suggesting that this chemotherapy regimen can overcome the poor prognosis generally associated with mutant TP53 status.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that, in noninflammatory breast cancers, TP53 status is a key predictive factor for response to this dose-dense epirubicin–cyclophosphamide regimen and further suggests that the basal subtype is exquisitely sensitive to this association. Given the well-established predictive value of complete responses for long-term survival and the poor prognosis of basal and TP53-mutant tumors treated with other regimens, this chemotherapy could be particularly suited for breast cancer patients with a mutant TP53, particularly those with basal features.
Hugues de The and colleagues report thatTP53 status is a predictive factor for responsiveness in breast cancers to a dose-dense epirubicin-cyclophosphamide chemotherapy regimen, and suggests that this regimen might be well suited for patientsTP53 mutant tumors.
Editors' Summary
Background.
One woman in eight will develop breast cancer during her life. As with other cancers, breast cancer arises when cells accumulate genetic changes (mutations) that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. These altered cells are called malignant cells. The normal human breast contains several types of cell, any of which can become malignant. In addition, there is more than one route to malignancy—different sets of genes can be mutated. As a result, breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease that cannot be cured with a single type of treatment. Ideally, oncologists would like to know before they start treating a patient which therapeutic approach is going to be successful for that individual. Recently, researchers have begun to identify molecular changes that might eventually allow oncologists to make such rational treatment decisions. For example, laboratory studies in cell lines or animals indicate that the status of a gene called TP53 determines the chemotherapy agents (drugs that preferentially kill rapidly dividing cancer cells) to which cells respond. p53, the protein encoded by TP53, is a tumor suppressor. That is, in normal cells it prevents unregulated growth by controlling the expression of proteins involved in cell division and cell death. Consequently, p53 is often inactivated during cancer development.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although laboratory studies have linked TP53 status to chemotherapy responses, little is known about this relationship in human breast cancers. The clinical studies that have investigated whether TP53 status affects chemotherapy responses have generally found that patients whose tumors contain mutant TP53 have a poorer response to therapy and/or a shorter survival time than those whose tumors contain normal TP53. In this study, the researchers have asked whether TP53 status affects tumor responses to a dose-intense chemotherapy regimen (frequent, high doses of drugs) given to women with advanced noninflammatory breast cancer before surgery. This type of treatment is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy and is used to shrink tumors before surgery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected breast tumor samples from 80 women before starting six fortnightly cycles of chemotherapy with epirubicin and cyclophosphamide. After this, each woman had her affected breast removed and examined to see whether the chemotherapy had killed the tumor cells. The researchers determined which original tumor samples contained mutated TP53 and used a technique called microarray expression profiling to document gene expression patterns in them. Overall, 28 tumors contained mutated TP53. Strikingly, all 15 tumors that responded completely to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (no tumor cells detectable in the breast tissue after chemotherapy) contained mutated TP53. Nine of these responsive tumors were basal-cell–like breast tumors, a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer; only one basal-cell–like, TP53-mutated tumor did not respond to chemotherapy. Patients whose tumors were unresponsive to the neoadjuvant chemotherapy but contained mutated TP53 tended to die sooner than those whose tumors contained normal TP53 or those with chemotherapy-responsive TP53-mutated tumors. Finally, expression profiling identified changes in the expression of many p53-regulated genes, but did not identify an expression profile in the TP53-mutated tumors unique to those that responded to chemotherapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that noninflammatory breast tumors containing mutant TP53—in particular, basal-cell–like tumors—are very sensitive to dose-dense epirubicin and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy. Intensive regimens of this type have rarely been used in previous studies, which might explain the apparent contradiction between these results and the generally poor response to chemotherapy of TP53-mutated breast tumors. More tumors now need to be examined to confirm the association between complete response, TP53 status and basal-cell–like tumors. In addition, although complete tumor responses generally predict good overall survival, longer survival studies than those reported here are needed to show that the tumor response to this particular neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimen translates into improved overall survival. If the present results can be confirmed and extended, dose-dense neoadjuvant chemotherapy with epirubicin and cyclophosphamide could considerably improve the outlook for patients with aggressive TP53-mutant, basal-cell–like breast tumors.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040090.
The US National Cancer Institute provides patient and physician information on breast cancer and general information on understanding cancer
Cancer Research UK offers patient information on cancer and breast cancer
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on breast cancer
Emory University's CancerQuest discusses the biology of cancer, including the role of tumor suppressor proteins
Wikipedia has pages on p53 (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040090
PMCID: PMC1831731  PMID: 17388661
19.  Analysis of the molecular and clinicopathologic features of surgically resected lung adenocarcinoma in patients under 40 years old 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(10):1396-1402.
Introduction
The youthful lung cancer may constitute an entity with distinct clinicopathologic characteristics and a controversial prognosis compared with the older counterpart. Whether the youthful lung cancer has the exclusively distinct molecular features has not been well investigated.
Methods
Thirty-six resected lung adenocarcinomas from young patients under 40 years old were analyzed concurrently for mutations in EGFR, KRAS, HER2, BRAF, AKT1, ALK, RET, TP53 and LKB1 and enrolled as the younger group. Their molecular and clinicopathologic characteristics were compared with those of 87 adenocarcinoma cases from patients above 40 years old which were collected as the older group.
Results
The comparable overall survival (OS) (P=0.942), more early adenocarcinomas (P=0.033), more wedge resections (P<0.001) and fewer smokers (P=0.004) were seen in the younger group, when compared with the clinicopathologic characteristics in the older group. Nineteen EGFR mutations (52.8%), 3 KRAS mutations (8.3%), 2 EML4-ALK fusions (5.6%) and 1 KIF5b-RET fusion (2.8%) were identified in the younger group. The difference of oncogenic mutations between the two groups was statistically insignificant (P=0.396). Twenty-six TP53 mutations (72.2%) and 4 LKB1 mutations (11.1%) were found in the younger group. When compared with the old patients, young patients showed a higher prevalence of TP53 mutations (P<0.001) and a comparable prevalence of LKB1 mutations (P=0.951).
Conclusions
The youthful lung cancer unequivocally presented the distinct clinicopathologic characteristics including more early adenocarcinomas and fewer smokers. It showed the similar oncogenic characteristics and higher prevalence of TP53 mutations compared with the older counterpart.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.08.50
PMCID: PMC4215147  PMID: 25364516
The youthful lung cancer; clinicopathologic characteristic; oncogene; tumor suppressor gene; mutation analysis
20.  Relationship between Tumor DNA Methylation Status and Patient Characteristics in African-American and European-American Women with Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37928.
Aberrant DNA methylation is critical for development and progression of breast cancer. We investigated the association of CpG island methylation in candidate genes and clinicopathological features in 65 African-American (AA) and European-American (EA) breast cancer patients. Quantitative methylation analysis was carried out on bisulfite modified genomic DNA and sequencing (pyrosequencing) for promoter CpG islands of p16, ESR1, RASSF1A, RARβ2, CDH13, HIN1, SFRP1 genes and the LINE1 repetitive element using matched paired non-cancerous and breast tumor specimen (32 AA and 33 EA women). Five of the genes, all known tumor suppressor genes (RASSF1A, RARβ2, CDH13, HIN1 and SFRP1), were found to be frequently hypermethylated in breast tumor tissues but not in the adjacent non-cancerous tissues. Significant differences in the CDH13 methylation status were observed by comparing DNA methylation between AA and EA patients, with more obvious CDH13 methylation differences between the two patient groups in the ER- disease and among young patients (age<50). In addition, we observed associations between CDH13, SFRP1, and RASSF1A methylation and breast cancer subtypes and between SFRP1 methylation and patient's age. Furthermore, tumors that received neoadjuvant therapy tended to have reduced RASSF1A methylation when compared with chemotherapy naïve tumors. Finally, Kaplan Meier survival analysis showed a significant association between methylation at 3 loci (RASSF1A, RARβ2 and CDH13) and reduced overall disease survival. In conclusion, the DNA methylation status of breast tumors was found to be significantly associated with clinicopathological features and race/ethnicity of the patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037928
PMCID: PMC3365111  PMID: 22701537
21.  Triple-negative (ER, PgR, HER-2/neu) breast cancer in Indian women 
The aim of our study was to analyze triple-negative (TN) breast cancer, which is defined as being negative for the estrogen receptor (ER), the progesterone receptor (PgR), and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2/neu) and which represents a subset of breast cancer with different biologic behavior. We investigated the clinicopathological characteristics and prognostic indicators of lymph node-negative TN breast cancer. Medical records were reviewed from patients with node-negative breast cancer who underwent curative surgery at Grant Medical College and Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, India, from May 2007 to October 2010. Clinicopathological variables and clinical outcomes were evaluated. Among 683 patients included, 136 had TN breast cancer and 529 had non-TN breast cancer. TN breast cancer correlated with younger age (<35 years, P = 0.003) and a higher histopathologic and nuclear grade (P < 0.001). It also correlated with a molecular profile associated with biological aggressiveness: negative for Bcl-2 expression (P < 0.001), positive for the epidermal growth factor receptor (P = 0.003), and a high level of p53 (P < 0.001) and Ki-67 expression (P < 0.00). The relapse rates during the follow-up period (median 56.8 months) were 14.7% for TN breast cancer and 6.6% for non-TN breast cancer (P = 0.004). Relapse-free survival (RFS) was significantly shorter among patients with TN breast cancer compared with those with non-TN breast cancer: 3.5-year RFS rate 85.5% versus 94.2%, respectively; P = 0.001. On multivariate analysis, young age, close resection margin, and triple negativity were independent predictors of shorter RFS. TN breast cancer had a higher relapse rate and more aggressive clinicopathological characteristics than non-TN in node-negative breast cancer. Thus, TN breast cancer should be integrated into risk factor analysis for node-negative breast cancer.
doi:10.2147/BCTT.S17094
PMCID: PMC3846824  PMID: 24367172
TN breast cancer; hormone receptors; ER; PgR; HER-2/neu; Ki-67
22.  Sporadic renal cell carcinoma in young and elderly patients: are there different clinicopathological features and disease specific survival rates? 
Background
Sporadic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is rare in young adults. In the present retrospective study we reviewed clinicopathological features and disease specific survival rates in young patients (≤45 years) with RCC and compared them to old patients (≥75 years) with RCC.
Methods
Between 1992 and 2005 a total of 1042 patients were treated for RCC at our institution. We found 70 patients 45 years or younger (YP) and 150 patients 75 years or older (OP) at time of diagnosis. There were no differences in therapeutical approaches between both groups. Clinical and biologic parameters at diagnosis were compared and subjected to uni- and multivariate analysis to study cancer specific survival and progression rate. Mean postoperative follow-up in both groups was 50.1 months.
Results
Mean age was 39 years in YP and 80 years in OP, respectively. YP demonstrated significantly lower stage (pT1-pT2 N0 M0, p = 0.03), lower tumor grade (p = 0.01) and higher male-to-female ratio (p < 0.001). The rate of lymph node metastases or distant metastatic disease at presentation did not differ significantly between both groups. In multivariate analysis young age was independently associated with a higher 5-year cancer specific survival (95.2% vs. 72.3%, p = 0.009) and a lower 5-year progression rate (11.3% vs. 42.5%, p = 0.002).
Conclusion
Sporadic RCC in young patients have lower tumor stages and grades and a better outcome compared to elderly. Age≤45 years was an independent prognostic factor for survival and progression.
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-5-16
PMCID: PMC1797177  PMID: 17280613
23.  Impact of Age on Clinicopathological Features and Survival of Patients with Noncardia Gastric Adenocarcinoma 
Journal of Gastric Cancer  2014;14(4):238-245.
Purpose
Gastric cancer often occurs in the elderly but is uncommon in young individuals. Whether young patients have different clinical behaviors and outcomes from those of older patients remain unclear.
Materials and Methods
We identified 1,366 cases of newly diagnosed noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Cancer Registry between 2000 and 2010. We then compared the clinicopathological features and survival among the different age groups.
Results
The male : female ratio differed significantly between the younger and older patient groups (0.84 in age <50 years vs. 1.52>60 years, P<0.01). More younger patients were Hispanic (54% patients <40 years vs. 19% patients ≥70 years, P<0.0001), while more older patients were Caucasian (49% patients ≥70 years vs. 15% patients <40 years; P<0.0001). The diffuse/mixed histological type was more prevalent in younger patients (70% patients <40 years vs. 27% patients ≥70 years; P<0.0001), whereas the intestinal type was more frequent in older patients (71% in patients ≥70 years vs. 30% in patients <40 years; P<0.0001). Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma was more common in the younger patients (80% in patients <40 years vs. 60% in patients ≥70 years; P=0.016). Survival rates at 1, 2, and 5 years gradually declined with increasing age (overall P=0.0002).
Conclusions
Young patients with gastric cancer had more aggressive disease but higher overall survival rates than older patients. Younger Hispanic patients and older Caucasian patients were more likely to be diagnosed with gastric cancer. These differences may be due to biological predisposition and/or environmental exposure.
doi:10.5230/jgc.2014.14.4.238
PMCID: PMC4286902  PMID: 25580355
Stomach neoplasms; Outcome assessment (health care); Age groups; Ethnic groups
24.  Impact of established prognostic factors and molecular subtype in very young breast cancer patients: pooled analysis of four EORTC randomized controlled trials 
Introduction
Young age at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer is an independent factor of poor prognosis. In many treatment guidelines, the recommendation is to treat young patients with adjuvant chemotherapy regardless of tumor characteristics. However, limited data on prognostic factors are available for young breast cancer patients. The purpose of this study was to determine the prognostic value of established clinical and pathological prognostic factors in young breast cancer patients.
Methods
Data from four European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) clinical trials were pooled, resulting in a dataset consisting of 9,938 early breast cancer patients with a median follow-up of 11 years. For 549 patients aged less than 40 years at the time of diagnosis, including 341 node negative patients who did not receive chemotherapy, paraffin tumor blocks were processed for immunohistochemistry using a tissue microarray. Cox proportional hazard analysis was applied to assess the association of clinical and pathological factors with overall and distant metastasis free survival.
Results
For young patients, tumor size (P = 0.01), nodal status (P = 0.006) and molecular subtype (P = 0.02) were independent prognostic factors for overall survival. In the node negative subgroup, only molecular subtype was a prognostic factor for overall survival (P = 0.02). Young node negative patients bearing luminal A tumors had an overall survival rate of 94% at 10 years' follow-up compared to 72% for patients with basal-type tumors.
Conclusions
Molecular subtype is a strong independent prognostic factor in breast cancer patients younger than 40 years of age. These data support the use of established prognostic factors as a diagnostic tool to assess disease outcome and to plan systemic treatment strategies in young breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1186/bcr2908
PMCID: PMC3218957  PMID: 21699739
25.  Distinct distribution and prognostic significance of molecular subtypes of breast cancer in Chinese women: a population-based cohort study 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:292.
Background
Molecular classification of breast cancer is an important prognostic factor. The distribution of molecular subtypes of breast cancer and their prognostic value has not been well documented in Asians.
Methods
A total of 2,791 breast cancer patients recruited for a population-based cohort study were evaluated for molecular subtypes of breast cancer by immunohistochemical assays. Data on clinicopathological characteristics were confirmed by centralized pathology review. The average follow-up of the patients was 53.4 months. Overall and disease-free survival by molecular subtypes of breast cancer were evaluated.
Results
The prevalence of the luminal A, luminal B, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and triple-negative subtypes were 48.6%, 16.7%, 13.7%, and 12.9%, respectively. The luminal A subtype was more likely to be diagnosed in older women (P = 0.03) and had a stronger correlation with favorable clinicopathological factors (smaller tumor size, lower histologic grade, and earlier TNM stage) than the triple-negative or HER2 subtypes. Women with triple-negative breast cancer had a higher frequency of family history of breast cancer than women with other subtypes (P = 0.048). The 5-year overall/disease-free survival percentages for the luminal A, luminal B, HER2, and triple-negative subtypes were 92.9%/88.6%, 88.6%/85.1%, 83.2%/79.1%, and 80.7%/76.0%, respectively. A similar pattern was observed in multivariate analyses. Immunotherapy was associated with improved overall and disease-free survival for luminal A breast cancer, but reduced disease-free survival (HR = 2.21, 95% CI, 1.09-4.48) for the HER2 subtype of breast cancer.
Conclusions
The triple-negative and HER2 subtypes were associated with poorer outcomes compared with the luminal A subtype among these Chinese women. The HER2 subtype was more prevalent in this Chinese population compared with Western populations, suggesting the importance of standardized HER2 detection and anti-HER2 therapy to potentially benefit a high proportion of breast cancer patients in China.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-292
PMCID: PMC3157458  PMID: 21749714

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