A high level of estrogen-stimulated proteins selects breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy with good prognosis

Katrine L H Weischenfeldt, Tove Kirkegaard, Birgitte B Rasmussen, Anita Giobbie-Hurder, Maj-Britt Jensen, Bent Ejlertsen, Anne E Lykkesfeldt

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review


BACKGROUND: Adjuvant endocrine therapy has significantly improved survival of estrogen receptor α (ER)-positive breast cancer patients, but around 20% relapse within 10 years. High expression of ER-stimulated proteins like progesterone receptor (PR), Bcl-2 and insulin-like growth factor receptor I (IGF-IR) is a marker for estrogen-driven cell growth. Therefore, patients with high tumor levels of these proteins may have particularly good prognosis following adjuvant endocrine therapy.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Archival tumor tissue was available from 1323 of 1396 Danish breast cancer patients enrolled in BIG 1-98, a randomized phase-III clinical trial comparing adjuvant letrozole, tamoxifen or a sequence of the two drugs. Immunohistochemical staining for ER, HER-2, PR, Bcl-2 and IGF-IR was performed and determined by Allred scoring (ER, PR and Bcl-2) or HercepTest (HER-2 and IGF-IR).

RESULTS: Data on all five markers were available from 969 patients with ER-positive, HER-2-negative tumors. These patients were classified in ER activity groups based on the level of PR, Bcl-2 and IGF-IR. High ER activity profile was found in 102 patients (10.5%) and compared with the remaining patients, univariate and multivariate analysis revealed HR (95% CI) and p values for disease-free survival (DFS) of 2.00 (1.20-3.22), 0.008 and 1.70 (1.01-2.84), 0.04 and for the overall survival (OS) of 2.33 (1.19-4.57), 0.01 and 1.90 (0.97-3.79), 0.06, respectively. The high ER activity profile did not disclose difference in DFS or OS according to treatment with tamoxifen or letrozole (p = .06 and .09, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Stratifying endocrine-treated patients in ER activity profile groups disclosed that patient with high ER activity profile (10.5%) had significantly longer DFS and OS, and the profile was an independent marker for DFS. High ER activity is a marker for estrogen-driven tumor growth. We suggest further analyses to disclose whether the ER activity profile or other markers associated with estrogen-driven growth may be used to identify ER-positive high-risk breast cancer patients who can be spared adjuvant chemotherapy.

Sider (fra-til)1161-1167
Antal sider7
TidsskriftActa Oncologica
Udgave nummer9
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2017


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