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Androgen receptor expression in primary breast cancer and its predictive and prognostic value in patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy

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The androgen receptor (AR) has been shown to be of potential prognostic importance in retrospective cohorts. We evaluated immunohistochemical AR expression on a tissue microarray of 673 core biopsies from primary breast cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant docetaxel/doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (TAC) chemotherapy in the prospective GeparTrio phase-III trial. AR was detected in 53.2% of tumours. Lowest AR expression was detected in triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) with 21.2%. Highest AR expression was observed in Luminal A-like tumours with 67%. In AR-positive tumours, pathological complete response (pCR) rate was 12.8% compared to 25.4% in AR-negative tumours (P < 0.0001). In multivariate analysis, AR independently predicted pCR (OR 1.86; 95% CI [1.16–2.79] P = 0.0086). Overall patients with an AR-positive tumour had a significant better disease-free (DFS) (AR-positive 78.9% vs. AR-negative 72.5%; log-rank P = 0.0329) and overall survival (OS) (88.8% vs. 82.7%; log-rank P = 0.0234) than those with AR-negative tumours. Stratified analysis revealed that in the TNBC subgroup, but not in the other subgroups defined by ER, PgR and HER2, AR expression predicted a better DFS (AR-positive 85.7% vs. AR-negative 65.5% log-rank P = 0.0544) and OS (95.2% vs. 76.2%; log-rank P = 0.0355). Within the non-pCR subgroup, AR positivity selected a group with a significant better DFS (P = 0.045) and OS (0.021) but not within the pCR group. Patients with an AR-negative tumour have a higher chance of achieving a pCR than those with an AR-positive one. But, patients with AR-positive tumours have a better survival especially if they did not achieve a pCR.

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We would like to thank all the patients donating their tissue and the investigators for making this research possible. This research did not receive any specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.

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There is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.

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Correspondence to Sibylle Loibl.

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Loibl, S., Müller, B.M., von Minckwitz, G. et al. Androgen receptor expression in primary breast cancer and its predictive and prognostic value in patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Breast Cancer Res Treat 130, 477–487 (2011).

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