Patterns of recurrence in the basal and non-basal subtypes of triple-negative breast cancers

  • Sharon Nofech-Mozes
  • Maureen Trudeau
  • Harriet K. Kahn
  • Rebecca Dent
  • Ellen Rawlinson
  • Ping Sun
  • Steven A. Narod
  • Wedad M. Hanna


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.


Triple-negative Basal-like Normal-like Breast cancer Prognosis Metastases 



Estrogen receptor


Progesterone receptor



We thank the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (Ontario Chapter) for support of the Henrietta Banting Database.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon Nofech-Mozes
    • 1
  • Maureen Trudeau
    • 2
  • Harriet K. Kahn
    • 1
  • Rebecca Dent
    • 2
  • Ellen Rawlinson
    • 3
  • Ping Sun
    • 3
  • Steven A. Narod
    • 3
  • Wedad M. Hanna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologySunnybrook Health Sciences Center and University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical Oncology, Odette Cancer CentreSunnybrook Health Sciences Center and University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Women’s College Research InstituteWomen’s College Hospital and University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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