The aim of this study was to determine the association between age and stage at diagnosis of breast cancer with the subsequent development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program were analyzed for incidence of second malignancies by age and stage at diagnosis of breast cancer. 420,076 female patients were identified. There was an age dependent risk of a subsequent diagnosis of AML in women younger than 50 years old (RR 4.14; P <0.001) and women 50–64 years old (RR 2.19; P <0.001), but not those 65 and older (RR 1.19; P = 0.123) when compared with the expected incidence of AML. A similar age dependent pattern was observed for second breast and ovarian cancers. There was also a stage dependent increase in risk of subsequent AML in younger women with stage III disease when compared with stage I disease (RR 2.92; P = 0.004), and to a lesser extent in middle age women (RR 2.24; P = 0.029), but not in older women (RR 0.79; P = 0.80).Younger age and stage III disease at the time of breast cancer diagnosis are associated with increased risk of a subsequent diagnosis of AML. This association maybe explained by either greater chemotherapy exposure or an interaction between therapy and genetic predisposition.
Therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia; Breast cancer; Chemotherapy; SEER; Epidemiology; Radiation therapy
Endocrine Therapy Resistant Estrogen Receptor Positive (ER+) Breast Cancer is the most common cause of breast cancer death. Miller et al. demonstrate that ligand-independent ER activity promotes the growth of breast cancer cells through CDK4/E2F. As an independent event the PI3K pathway is also up regulated in endocrine therapy resistant cells. Promising preclinical evidence by several groups for the combination of an inhibitor of ligand-independent ER, fulvestrant, with PI3K inhibition, has led to the activation of trials evaluating this concept.
Advances in hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) have broadened its indications for use and resulted in more long-term HCT survivors. Some survivors develop chronic kidney disease (CKD), however, the incidence and risk factors are unclear. We performed a systematic review of studies identified from databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Science Citation Index), conference abstracts, and reference lists from selected manuscripts. From 927 manuscripts, 28 patient cohorts were identified in which 9,317 adults and children underwent HCT and 7,317 (79%) survived to at least 100 days, permitting inclusion of 5,337 (73% of survivors) in quantitative analyses. Although definitions and measurements varied widely, approximately 16.6% of HCT patients developed CKD and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR in ml/min/1.73m2) decreased by 24.5 after 24 months. This decrease was greater amongst patients undergoing allogeneic HCT (ΔeGFR = −40.0 versus −18.6 for autologous transplants). Several commonly reported risk factors for CKD were investigated, including acute renal failure, total body irradiation, graft versus host disease, and long-term cyclosporine use. In conclusion, CKD following HCT is likely to be common, however, prospective studies with uniform definitions of CKD and risk factors are needed to confirm these findings and better define the underlying mechanisms to promote therapies that prevent this complication.
chronic kidney disease (CKD); hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; bone marrow transplantation; renal failure; meta-analysis; systematic review; risk factor; complications
To correlate the variable clinical features of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer with somatic alterations, we studied pre-treatment tumour biopsies accrued from patients in a study of neoadjuvant aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy by massively parallel sequencing and analysis. Eighteen significantly mutated genes were identified, including five genes (RUNX1, CBFB, MYH9, MLL3 and SF3B1) previously linked to hematopoietic disorders. Mutant MAP3K1 was associated with Luminal A status, low grade histology and low proliferation rates whereas mutant TP53 associated with the opposite pattern. Moreover, mutant GATA3 correlated with suppression of proliferation upon AI treatment. Pathway analysis demonstrated mutations in MAP2K4, a MAP3K1 substrate, produced similar perturbations as MAP3K1 loss. Distinct phenotypes in ER+ breast cancer are associated with specific patterns of somatic mutations that map into cellular pathways linked to tumor biology but most recurrent mutations are relatively infrequent. Prospective clinical trials based on these findings will require comprehensive genome sequencing.
Mutations in TP53 lead to a defective G1 checkpoint and the dependence on checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) for G2 or S phase arrest in response to DNA damage. In preclinical studies, Chk1 inhibition resulted in enhanced cytotoxicity of several chemotherapeutic agents. The high frequency of TP53 mutations in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC: negative for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2) make Chk1 an attractive therapeutic target. UCN-01, a non-selective Chk1 inhibitor, combined with irinotecan demonstrated activity in advanced TNBC in our Phase I study. The goal of this trial was to further evaluate this treatment in women with TNBC. Patients with metastatic TNBC previously treated with anthracyclines and taxanes received irinotecan (100–125 mg/m2 IV days 1, 8, 15, 22) and UCN-01 (70 mg/m2 IV day 2, 35 mg/m2 day 23 and subsequent doses) every 42-day cycle. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and tumor specimens were collected. Twenty five patients were enrolled. The overall response (complete response (CR) + partial response (PR)) rate was 4 %. The clinical benefit rate (CR + PR + stable disease ≥6 months) was 12 %. Since UCN-01 inhibits PDK1, phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 (pS6) in PBMC was assessed. Although reduced 24 h post UCN-01, pS6 levels rose to baseline by day 8, indicating loss of UCN-01 bioavailability. Immunostains of γH2AX and pChk1S296 on serial tumor biopsies from four patients demonstrated an induction of DNA damage and Chk1 activation following irinotecan. However, Chk1 inhibition by UCN-01 was not observed in all tumors. Most tumors were basal-like (69 %), and carried mutations in TP53 (53 %). Median overall survival in patients with TP53 mutant tumors was poor compared to wild type (5.5 vs. 20.3 months, p = 0.004). This regimen had limited activity in TNBC. Inconsistent Chk1 inhibition was likely due to the pharmacokinetics of UCN-01. TP53 mutations were associated with a poor prognosis in metastatic TNBC.
Irinotecan; UCN-01; Chk1; Metastatic triple negative breast cancer; TP53; p53
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
Preoperative aromatase inhibitor (AI) treatment promotes breast-conserving surgery (BCS) for estrogen receptor (ER) –positive breast cancer. To study this treatment option, responses to three AIs were compared in a randomized phase II neoadjuvant trial designed to select agents for phase III investigations.
Patients and Methods
Three hundred seventy-seven postmenopausal women with clinical stage II to III ER-positive (Allred score 6-8) breast cancer were randomly assigned to receive neoadjuvant exemestane, letrozole, or anastrozole. The primary end point was clinical response. Secondary end points included BCS, Ki67 proliferation marker changes, the Preoperative Endocrine Prognostic Index (PEPI), and PAM50-based intrinsic subtype analysis.
On the basis of clinical response rates, letrozole and anastrozole were selected for further investigation; however, no other differences in surgical outcome, PEPI score, or Ki67 suppression were detected. The BCS rate for mastectomy-only patients at presentation was 51%. PAM50 analysis identified AI-unresponsive nonluminal subtypes (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 enriched or basal-like) in 3.3% of patients. Clinical response and surgical outcomes were similar in luminal A (LumA) versus luminal B tumors; however, a PEPI of 0 (best prognostic group) was highest in the LumA subset (27.1% v 10.7%; P = .004).
Neoadjuvant AI treatment markedly improved surgical outcomes. Ki67 and PEPI data demonstrated that the three agents tested are biologically equivalent and therefore likely to have similar adjuvant activities. LumA tumors were more likely to have favorable biomarker characteristics after treatment; however, occasional paradoxical increases in Ki67 (12% of tumors with > 5% increase after therapy) suggest treatment-resistant cells, present in some LumA tumors, can be detected by post-treatment profiling.
Patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) — defined by lack of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor expression as well as lack of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) amplification — have a poor prognosis. There is a need for targeted therapies to treat this condition. TNBCs frequently harbor mutations in TP53, resulting in loss of the G1 checkpoint and reliance on checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) to arrest cells in response to DNA damage. Previous studies have shown that inhibition of Chk1 in a p53-deficient background in response to DNA damage. We therefore tested whether inhibition of Chk1 could potentiate the cytotoxicity of the DNA damaging agent irinotecan in TNBC using xenotransplant tumor models. Tumor specimens from patients with TNBC were engrafted into humanized mammary fat pads of immunodeficient mice to create 3 independent human-in-mouse TNBC lines: 1 WT (WU-BC3) and 2 mutant for TP53 (WU-BC4 and WU-BC5). These lines were tested for their response to irinotecan and a Chk1 inhibitor (either UCN-01 or AZD7762), either as single agents or in combination. The combination therapy induced checkpoint bypass and apoptosis in WU-BC4 and WU-BC5, but not WU-BC3, tumors. Moreover, combination therapy inhibited tumor growth and prolonged survival of mice bearing the WU-BC4 line, but not the WU-BC3 line. In addition, knockdown of p53 sensitized WU-BC3 tumors to the combination therapy. These results demonstrate that p53 is a major determinant of how TNBCs respond to therapies that combine DNA damage with Chk1 inhibition.
Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer with limited treatment options and is without proven targeted therapy. Understanding the molecular basis of triple negative breast cancer is crucial for effective new drug development. Recent genomewide gene expression and DNA sequencing studies indicate that this cancer type is composed of a molecularly heterogeneous group of diseases that carry multiple somatic mutations and genomic structural changes. These findings have implications for therapeutic target identification and the design of future clinical trials for this aggressive group of breast cancer.
To compare clinical, immunohistochemical and gene expression models of prognosis applicable to formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded blocks in a large series of estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, from patients uniformly treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
qRT-PCR assays for 50 genes identifying intrinsic breast cancer subtypes were completed on 786 specimens linked to clinical (median followup 11.7 years) and immunohistochemical (ER, PR, HER2, Ki67) data. Performance of predefined intrinsic subtype and Risk-Of-Relapse scores was assessed using multivariable Cox models and Kaplan-Meier analysis. Harrell’s C index was used to compare fixed models trained in independent data sets, including proliferation signatures.
Despite clinical ER positivity, 10% of cases were assigned to non-Luminal subtypes. qRT-PCR signatures for proliferation genes gave more prognostic information than clinical assays for hormone receptors or Ki67. In Cox models incorporating standard prognostic variables, hazard ratios for breast cancer disease specific survival over the first 5 years of followup, relative to the most common Luminal A subtype, are 1.99 (95% CI: 1.09–3.64) for Luminal B, 3.65 (1.64–8.16) for HER2-enriched and 17.71 (1.71–183.33) for the basal like subtype. For node-negative disease, PAM50 qRT-PCR based risk assignment weighted for tumor size and proliferation identifies a group with >95% 10 yr survival without chemotherapy. In node positive disease, PAM50-based prognostic models were also superior.
The PAM50 gene expression test for intrinsic biological subtype can be applied to large series of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded breast cancers, and gives more prognostic information than clinical factors and immunohistochemistry using standard cutpoints.
We performed a case-control genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with musculoskeletal adverse events (MS-AEs) in women treated with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) for early breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
A nested case-control design was used to select patients enrolled onto the MA.27 phase III trial comparing anastrozole with exemestane. Cases were matched to two controls and were defined as patients with grade 3 or 4 MS-AEs (according to the National Cancer Institute's Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events v3.0) or those who discontinued treatment for any grade of MS-AE within the first 2 years. Genotyping was performed with the Illumina Human610-Quad BeadChip.
The GWAS included 293 cases and 585 controls. A total of 551,358 SNPs were analyzed, followed by imputation and fine mapping of a region of interest on chromosome 14. Four SNPs on chromosome 14 had the lowest P values (2.23E-06 to 6.67E-07). T-cell leukemia 1A (TCL1A) was the gene closest (926-7000 bp) to the four SNPs. Functional genomic studies revealed that one of these SNPs (rs11849538) created an estrogen response element and that TCL1A expression was estrogen dependent, was associated with the variant SNP genotypes in estradiol-treated lymphoblastoid cells transfected with estrogen receptor alpha and was directly related to interleukin 17 receptor A (IL17RA) expression.
This GWAS identified SNPs associated with MS-AEs in women treated with AIs and with a gene (TCL1A) which, in turn, was related to a cytokine (IL17). These findings provide a focus for further research to identify patients at risk for MS-AEs and to explore the mechanisms for these adverse events.
To determine whether plasma estradiol (E2) levels are related to gene expression in estrogen receptor (ER)–positive breast cancers in postmenopausal women.
Materials and Methods
Genome-wide RNA profiles were obtained from pretreatment core-cut tumor biopsies from 104 postmenopausal patients with primary ER-positive breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant anastrozole. Pretreatment plasma E2 levels were determined by highly sensitive radioimmunoassay. Genes were identified for which expression was correlated with pretreatment plasma E2 levels. Validation was performed in an independent set of 73 ER-positive breast cancers.
The expression of many known estrogen-responsive genes and gene sets was highly significantly associated with plasma E2 levels (eg, TFF1/pS2, GREB1, PDZK1 and PGR; P < .005). Plasma E2 explained 27% of the average expression of these four average estrogen-responsive genes (ie, AvERG; r = 0.51; P < .0001), and a standardized mean of plasma E2 levels and ER transcript levels explained 37% (r, 0.61). These observations were validated in an independent set of 73 ER-positive tumors. Exploratory analysis suggested that addition of the nuclear coregulators in a multivariable analysis with ER and E2 levels might additionally improve the relationship with the AvERG. Plasma E2 and the standardized mean of E2 and ER were both significantly correlated with 2-week Ki67, a surrogate marker of clinical outcome (r = −0.179; P = .05; and r = −0.389; P = .0005, respectively).
Plasma E2 levels are significantly associated with gene expression of ER-positive breast cancers and should be considered in future genomic studies of ER-positive breast cancer. The AvERG is a new experimental tool for the study of putative estrogenic stimuli of breast cancer.
Microarray data have been widely utilized to discover biomarkers predictive of response to endocrine therapy in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Typically, these data have focused on analyses conducted on the diagnostic specimen. However, dynamic temporal changes in gene expression associated with treatment may deliver significant improvements to the current generation of predictive models. We present and discuss some statistical issues relevant to the paper by Taylor and colleagues, who conducted studies to model the prognostic potential of gene expression changes that occur after endocrine treatment.
Mutations in the alpha catalytic subunit of phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PIK3CA) occur in ~30% of ER positive breast cancers. We therefore sought to determine the impact of PIK3CA mutation on response to neoadjuvant endocrine therapy.
Exon 9 (helical domain - HD) and Exon 20 (kinase domain- KD) mutations in PIK3CA were determined samples from four neoadjuvant endocrine therapy trials. Interactions with clinical, pathological and biomarker response parameters were examined.
A weak negative interaction between PIK3CA mutation status and clinical response to neoadjuvant endocrine treatment was detected (N=235 P=<0.05), but not with treatment-induced changes in Ki67-based proliferation index (N=418). Despite these findings, PIK3CA KD mutation was a favorable prognostic factor for relapse-free survival (RFS log rank P=0.02) in the P024 trial (N=153). The favorable prognostic effect was maintained in a multivariable analysis (N=125) that included the preoperative prognostic index (PEPI), an approach to predicting RFS based on post neoadjuvant endocrine therapy pathological stage, ER and Ki67 levels (HR for no PIK3CA KD mutation, 14, CI 1.9–105 P=0.01).
PIK3CA mutation status did not strongly interact with neoadjuvant endocrine therapy responsiveness in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Nonetheless, as with other recent studies, a favorable interaction between PIK3CA kinase domain mutation and prognosis was detected. The mechanism for the favorable prognostic impact of PIK3CA mutation status therefore remains unexplained.
Massively parallel DNA sequencing technologies provide an unprecedented ability to screen entire genomes for genetic changes associated with tumor progression. Here we describe the genomic analyses of four DNA samples from an African-American patient with basal-like breast cancer: peripheral blood, the primary tumor, a brain metastasis, and a xenograft derived from the primary tumor. The metastasis contained two de novo mutations and a large deletion not present in the primary tumor, and was significantly enriched for 20 shared mutations. The xenograft retained all primary tumor mutations, and displayed a mutation enrichment pattern that paralleled the metastasis (16 of 20 genes). Two overlapping large deletions, encompassing CTNNA1, were present in all three tumor samples. The differential mutation frequencies and structural variation patterns in metastasis and xenograft compared to the primary tumor suggest that secondary tumors may arise from a minority of cells within the primary.
UCN-01 (7-hydroxystaurosporine) is a multi-targeted protein kinase inhibitor that exhibits synergistic activity with DNA-damaging agents in preclinical studies. We conducted a Phase I study to determine the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic effects of UCN-01 and irinotecan in patients with resistant solid tumors.
Patients received irinotecan (75–125 mg/m2 IV on days 1, 8, 15, 22) and UCN-01 (50–90 mg/m2 IV on day 2 and 25–45 mg/m2 on day 23 and subsequent doses) every 42 days. Blood for pharmacokinetics of UCN-01 and irinotecan, and blood, normal rectal mucosa, and tumor biopsies for pharmacodynamic studies were obtained.
Twenty-five patients enrolled to 5 dose levels. The MTD was irinotecan 125 mg/m2 on days 1, 8, 15, 22 and UCN-01 70 mg/m2 on day 2 and 35 mg/m2 on day 23. DLTs included grade 3 diarrhea/dehydration and dyspnea. UCN-01 had a prolonged half-life and a low clearance rate. There was a significant reduction in SN-38 Cmax and aminopentanocarboxylic acid (APC) and SN-38 glucuronide half-lives. Phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 was reduced in blood, normal rectal mucosa, and tumor biopsies at 24 h post-UCN-01. Two partial responses were observed in women with ER, PgR, and HER2-negative breast cancers (TBNC). Both tumors were defective for p53. Twelve patients had stable disease (mean duration 18 weeks, range 7–30 weeks).
UCN-01 and irinotecan demonstrated acceptable toxicity and target inhibition. Anti-tumor activity was observed and a study of this combination in women with TNBC is underway.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00280-010-1410-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Phase 1; Irinotecan; UCN-01; Chk1; Ribosomal protein S6
To improve on current standards for breast cancer prognosis and prediction of chemotherapy benefit by developing a risk model that incorporates the gene expression–based “intrinsic” subtypes luminal A, luminal B, HER2-enriched, and basal-like.
A 50-gene subtype predictor was developed using microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction data from 189 prototype samples. Test sets from 761 patients (no systemic therapy) were evaluated for prognosis, and 133 patients were evaluated for prediction of pathologic complete response (pCR) to a taxane and anthracycline regimen.
The intrinsic subtypes as discrete entities showed prognostic significance (P = 2.26E-12) and remained significant in multivariable analyses that incorporated standard parameters (estrogen receptor status, histologic grade, tumor size, and node status). A prognostic model for node-negative breast cancer was built using intrinsic subtype and clinical information. The C-index estimate for the combined model (subtype and tumor size) was a significant improvement on either the clinicopathologic model or subtype model alone. The intrinsic subtype model predicted neoadjuvant chemotherapy efficacy with a negative predictive value for pCR of 97%.
Diagnosis by intrinsic subtype adds significant prognostic and predictive information to standard parameters for patients with breast cancer. The prognostic properties of the continuous risk score will be of value for the management of node-negative breast cancers. The subtypes and risk score can also be used to assess the likelihood of efficacy from neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Recommendations for specimen collection and handling have been developed for adoption across breast cancer clinical trials conducted by the Breast International Group (BIG)-sponsored Groups and the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored North American Cooperative Groups. These recommendations are meant to promote identifiable standards for specimen collection and handling within and across breast cancer trials, such that the variability in collection/handling practices that currently exists is minimized and specimen condition and quality are enhanced, thereby maximizing results from specimen-based diagnostic testing and research. Three working groups were formed from the Cooperative Group Banking Committee, BIG groups, and North American breast cancer cooperative groups to identify standards for collection and handling of (1) formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue; (2) blood and its components; and (3) fresh/frozen tissue from breast cancer trials. The working groups collected standard operating procedures from multiple group specimen banks, administered a survey on banking practices to those banks, and engaged in a series of discussions from 2005 to 2007. Their contributions were synthesized into this document, which focuses primarily on collection and handling of specimens to the point of shipment to the central bank, although also offers some guidance to central banks. Major recommendations include submission of an FFPE block, whole blood, and serial serum or plasma from breast cancer clinical trials, and use of one fixative and buffer type (10% neutral phosphate-buffered formalin, pH 7) for FFPE tissue across trials. Recommendations for proper handling and shipping were developed for blood, serum, plasma, FFPE, and fresh/frozen tissue.
Background Expression of aromatase by malignant breast epithelial cells and/or the surrounding stroma implies local estrogen production that could influence the outcome of endocrine therapy for breast cancer. Methods A validated immunohistochemical assay for aromatase was applied to samples from the P024 neoadjuvant endocrine therapy trial that compared tamoxifen and letrozole. The presence of aromatase expression by tumor or stromal cells was correlated with tumor response, treatment induced changes in proliferation index (Ki67), relapse-free survival (RFS) and breast cancer-specific survival (BCSS). Results Tumor and stromal aromatase expression were highly correlated (P = 0.0001). Tumor cell aromatase, as a semi-continuous score, also correlated with smaller tumor size at presentation (P = 0.01) higher baseline ER Allred score (P = 0.006) and lower Ki67 levels (P = 0.003). There was no significant relationship with clinical response or treatment-induced changes in Ki67. However, in a Cox multivariable model that incorporated a post-treatment tumor profile (pathological T stage, N stage, Ki67 and ER status of the surgical specimen), the presence of tumor aromatase expression at baseline sample remained a favorable independent prognostic biomarker for both RFS (P = 0.01, HR 2.3, 95% CI 1.2–4.6 for absent expression) and BCSS (P = 0.008, HR 3.76, 95% CI 1.4–10.0). Conclusions Autocrine estrogen synthesis may be most characteristic of smaller, more indolent and ER-rich breast cancers with lower baseline growth rates. However, response to endocrine treatment may not depend on whether the estrogenic stimulus has a local versus systemic source.
Aromatase; Letrozole; Tamoxifen; Neoadjuvant endocrine therapy
Gene expression profiling of breast cancer has identified two biologically distinct estrogen receptor (ER)-positive subtypes of breast cancer: luminal A and luminal B. Luminal B tumors have higher proliferation and poorer prognosis than luminal A tumors. In this study, we developed a clinically practical immunohistochemistry assay to distinguish luminal B from luminal A tumors and investigated its ability to separate tumors according to breast cancer recurrence-free and disease-specific survival.
Tumors from a cohort of 357 patients with invasive breast carcinomas were subtyped by gene expression profile. Hormone receptor status, HER2 status, and the Ki67 index (percentage of Ki67-positive cancer nuclei) were determined immunohistochemically. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to determine the Ki67 cut point to distinguish luminal B from luminal A tumors. The prognostic value of the immunohistochemical assignment for breast cancer recurrence-free and disease-specific survival was investigated with an independent tissue microarray series of 4046 breast cancers by use of Kaplan–Meier curves and multivariable Cox regression.
Gene expression profiling classified 101 (28%) of the 357 tumors as luminal A and 69 (19%) as luminal B. The best Ki67 index cut point to distinguish luminal B from luminal A tumors was 13.25%. In an independent cohort of 4046 patients with breast cancer, 2847 had hormone receptor–positive tumors. When HER2 immunohistochemistry and the Ki67 index were used to subtype these 2847 tumors, we classified 1530 (59%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 57% to 61%) as luminal A, 846 (33%, 95% CI = 31% to 34%) as luminal B, and 222 (9%, 95% CI = 7% to 10%) as luminal–HER2 positive. Luminal B and luminal–HER2-positive breast cancers were statistically significantly associated with poor breast cancer recurrence-free and disease-specific survival in all adjuvant systemic treatment categories. Of particular relevance are women who received tamoxifen as their sole adjuvant systemic therapy, among whom the 10-year breast cancer–specific survival was 79% (95% CI = 76% to 83%) for luminal A, 64% (95% CI = 59% to 70%) for luminal B, and 57% (95% CI = 47% to 69%) for luminal–HER2 subtypes.
Expression of ER, progesterone receptor, and HER2 proteins and the Ki67 index appear to distinguish luminal A from luminal B breast cancer subtypes.
Understanding how tumor response is related to relapse risk would help clinicians make decisions about additional treatment options for patients who have received neoadjuvant endocrine treatment for estrogen receptor–positive (ER+) breast cancer.
Tumors from 228 postmenopausal women with confirmed ER+ stage 2 and 3 breast cancers in the P024 neoadjuvant endocrine therapy trial, which compared letrozole and tamoxifen for 4 months before surgery, were analyzed for posttreatment ER status, Ki67 proliferation index, histological grade, pathological tumor size, node status, and treatment response. Cox proportional hazards were used to identify factors associated with relapse-free survival (RFS) and breast cancer–specific survival (BCSS) in 158 women. A preoperative endocrine prognostic index (PEPI) for RFS was developed from these data and validated in an independent study of 203 postmenopausal women in the IMPACT trial, which compared treatment with anastrozole, tamoxifen, or the combination 3 months before surgery. Statistical tests were two-sided.
Median follow-up in P024 was 61.2 months. Patients with confirmed baseline ER+ clinical stage 2 and 3 tumors that were downstaged to stage 1 or 0 at surgery had 100% RFS (compared with higher stages, P < .001). Multivariable testing of posttreatment tumor characteristics revealed that pathological tumor size, node status, Ki67 level, and ER status were independently associated with both RFS and BCSS. The PEPI model based on these factors predicted RFS in the IMPACT trial (P = .002).
Breast cancer patients with pathological stage 1 or 0 disease after neoadjuvant endocrine therapy and a low-risk biomarker profile in the surgical specimen (PEPI score 0) have an extremely low risk of relapse and are therefore unlikely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy trials have consistently reported lower response rates in hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer when compared with HR− cases. Preoperative endocrine therapy has therefore become a logical alternative and has gained considerable momentum from the finding that aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are more effective than tamoxifen for HR+ breast cancer in both the neoadjuvant and adjuvant settings. The most convincing neoadjuvant trial to demonstrate the superiority of an AI versus tamoxifen was the P024 study, a large multinational double-blind trial in postmenopausal women with HR+ breast cancer ineligible for breast-conserving surgery. The overall response rate (ORR) was 55% for letrozole and 36% for tamoxifen (P < 0.001). Significantly more letrozole-treated patients underwent breast-conserving surgery (45 vs. 35%, respectively; P = 0.022). In addition, ORR was significantly higher with letrozole than tamoxifen in the human epidermal growth factor receptor HER1/HER2+ subgroup (P = 0.0004). The clinical efficacy of letrozole in HER2+ breast cancer was confirmed by fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis and was found to be comparable to that of HER2− cases (ORR 71% in both subsets). Biomarker studies confirmed the superiority of letrozole in centrally assessed estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) tumors and found a strong relationship with the degree of ER positivity for both agents. Interestingly, letrozole was effective even in marginally ER+ tumors and, unlike tamoxifen, consistently reduced the expression from estrogen-regulated genes (progesterone receptor and trefoil factor 1). Furthermore, when analyzed by Ki67 immunohistochemistry, letrozole was significantly more effective than tamoxifen in reducing tumor proliferation (P = 0.0009). Thus, neoadjuvant letrozole is safe and superior to tamoxifen in the treatment of postmenopausal women with HR+ locally advanced breast cancer.
Neoadjuvant therapy; Aromatase inhibitor; Breast cancer; Endocrine therapy; Letrozole; Postmenopausal; Tamoxifen
Recent studies indicate that constitutive signaling through the phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3K) pathway is a cause of treatment resistance in breast cancer patients. This implies that patients with tumors that exhibit aberrant PI3K signaling may benefit from targeted pathway inhibitors. The first agents to make it to the clinic are the rapamycin analogs. These compounds inhibit the downstream PI3K effector mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). A study presented in this issue of Breast Cancer Research suggests that recently developed inhibitors of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1, a more proximal target of the PI3K pathway, may provide an alternative route to effective PI3K pathway inhibition for breast cancer treatment.
Many methodologies have been used in research to identify the “intrinsic” subtypes of breast cancer commonly known as Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-Enriched (HER2-E) and Basal-like. The PAM50 gene set is often used for gene expression-based subtyping; however, surrogate subtyping using panels of immunohistochemical (IHC) markers are still widely used clinically. Discrepancies between these methods may lead to different treatment decisions.
We used the PAM50 RT-qPCR assay to expression profile 814 tumors from the GEICAM/9906 phase III clinical trial that enrolled women with locally advanced primary invasive breast cancer. All samples were scored at a single site by IHC for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and Her2/neu (HER2) protein expression. Equivocal HER2 cases were confirmed by chromogenic in situ hybridization (CISH). Single gene scores by IHC/CISH were compared with RT-qPCR continuous gene expression values and “intrinsic” subtype assignment by the PAM50. High, medium, and low expression for ESR1, PGR, ERBB2, and proliferation were selected using quartile cut-points from the continuous RT-qPCR data across the PAM50 subtype assignments.
ESR1, PGR, and ERBB2 gene expression had high agreement with established binary IHC cut-points (area under the curve (AUC) ≥ 0.9). Estrogen receptor positivity by IHC was strongly associated with Luminal (A and B) subtypes (92%), but only 75% of ER negative tumors were classified into the HER2-E and Basal-like subtypes. Luminal A tumors more frequently expressed PR than Luminal B (94% vs 74%) and Luminal A tumors were less likely to have high proliferation (11% vs 77%). Seventy-seven percent (30/39) of ER-/HER2+ tumors by IHC were classified as the HER2-E subtype. Triple negative tumors were mainly comprised of Basal-like (57%) and HER2-E (30%) subtypes. Single gene scoring for ESR1, PGR, and ERBB2 was more prognostic than the corresponding IHC markers as shown in a multivariate analysis.
The standard immunohistochemical panel for breast cancer (ER, PR, and HER2) does not adequately identify the PAM50 gene expression subtypes. Although there is high agreement between biomarker scoring by protein immunohistochemistry and gene expression, the gene expression determinations for ESR1 and ERBB2 status was more prognostic.