Hormone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, and Ki-67 status in primary breast cancer and corresponding recurrences or synchronous axillary lymph node metastases


The therapeutic strategy for breast cancer is determined by the surrogate subtype, which is defined by biomarkers, such as estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2), and Ki-67. In previous reports, the rate of discordance in ER, PgR, and HER2 between primary breast cancer and recurrent lesions or synchronous axillary lymph node metastasis was 15–25, 25–40, and 5–25 or 7–50, 10–50, and 3–30%, respectively. Overall, hormone receptors tended to weaken during the metastatic process, while patterns of HER2 were not uniform. Regarding the Ki-67 labeling index, an increase in metastatic lesions compared with primary lesions was the dominant pattern, suggesting that aggressive subclones with high proliferative potential form metastases. The loss of expression of hormone receptor or an increase in the Ki-67 labeling index in metastasis seemed to be associated with a poor prognosis. However, most previous studies did not report the background characteristics of patients, or they included subjects with varied characteristics, including those on systemic therapy, and were based on relatively small populations; therefore, definitive conclusions could not be drawn. Future studies should explore how to select therapies according to the biomarkers in primary breast cancer and/or its metastasis.

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Correspondence to Kosho Yamanouchi.

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Kosho Yamanouchi, Sayaka Kuba, and Susumu Eguchi have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Yamanouchi, K., Kuba, S. & Eguchi, S. Hormone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, and Ki-67 status in primary breast cancer and corresponding recurrences or synchronous axillary lymph node metastases. Surg Today 50, 657–663 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00595-019-01831-8

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  • Breast cancer
  • Metastasis
  • Biomarker
  • Discordance