Patterns of recurrence in the basal and non-basal subtypes of triple-negative breast cancers
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- Nofech-Mozes, S., Trudeau, M., Kahn, H.K. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2009) 118: 131. doi:10.1007/s10549-008-0295-8
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Traditional prognostic markers for breast cancer include estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (ER) and HER2/neu. Negative staining for these three markers defines the ‘triple-negative’ phenotype. By adding markers for cytokeratin 5/6 and EGFR, triple-negative breast cancers can be divided into ‘basal-like’ and ‘normal-like’ subgroups. We conducted immuno-staining on a panel of 958 patients with breast cancer, using all five markers and we followed the patients for distal recurrence and death. We compared rates of distal recurrence in the basal-like and normal-like subgroups with that of women with ER-positive breast cancer. Only 16 of 958 women had normal-like breast cancers. These cancers resembled basal-like cancers in that they had a high proliferative index, but the women with normal-like breast cancers resembled ER-positive women in terms of distant recurrence. The addition of CK5/6 and EGFR to the standard panel (ER/PR/HER2/neu) defines a small subgroup of women with normal-like breast cancer. The prognosis of these women may be superior to that of basal-like breast cancers but firm conclusions cannot be made.