Subtyping breast cancer by immunohistochemistry to investigate survival terms

May 25, 2010

A study by Paul Pharoah and colleagues published in this week's PLoS Medicine evaluates immunohistochemistry-based subtype classification of breast tumors for the prediction of disease outcome. Their analysis is based on more than 10,000 breast cancer cases with early disease, and examines the influence of a patient's tumour type on the prediction of future survival.

As has been shown previously the three subtypes of ER negative disease have a poorer outcome than the ER positive disease subtypes in the short term. However, this study has shown that in the long term, the ER negative disease subtypes have a better prognosis. This study has also conclusively demonstrated that the so-called triple negative tumours (ER-, PR- and HER2-) can be divided into two sub-types (basal and non-basal) with the basal subtype having a poorer prognosis.

The observed survival patterns were independent of any systemic adjuvant therapy, suggesting that biology and molecular heterogeneity within subtypes, rather than the choice of therapy, determined the survival trends. The authors recommend that this prognostic method should be incorporated into clinical practice.

A related Perspective by Stefan Ambs in the same issue examines the clinical significance of this large study and discusses the limitations of subtype classification for prognostication and targeted therapy in the management of breast cancer.

Explore further: 'Triple negative' breast cancers linked to the young, minority

More information: Blows FM, Driver KE, Schmidt MK, Broeks A, van Leeuwen FE, et al. (2010) Subtyping of Breast Cancer by Immunohistochemistry to Investigate a Relationship between Subtype and Short and Long Term Survival: A Collaborative Analysis of Data for 10,159 Cases from 12 Studies. PLoS Med 7(5): e1000279.doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000279

Related Stories

ER/PR negative tumors associated with insurance status

November 18, 2008

African-American women are at a higher risk for ER/PR negative breast cancer. A new study, to be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention ...

New subtype of breast cancer responds to targeted drug

March 1, 2010

A newly identified cancer biomarker could define a new subtype of breast cancer as well as offer a potential way to treat it, say researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Their findings will be ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.