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- Open Access
Her-2/neu expression in primary breast cancer and its lymph node metastases
- Fatima Cardoso1
© Biomed Central Ltd 2001
- Received: 13 September 2001
- Accepted: 13 September 2001
- Published: 1 December 2001
- Breast cancer, her-2, HerceptinR, primary metastases
Trastuzumab (HerceptinR) is a recombinant monoclonal antibody that binds to the transmembrane growth factor receptor Her-2, and is one of the first successful examples of targeted therapy in the treatment of cancer. However, in about 60% of patients, who receive HerceptinR alone as first-line therapy, no objective responses are observed, even if the tumour has an intensive Her-2 positivity. The authors hypothesized that the high failure rate of treating patients with HerceptinR could result from different Her-2 expression between a primary tumour and its metastases. Since HerceptinR works by targeting the metastases, if at least some of the multiple metastases of a Her-2-positive primary breast cancer do not express Her-2, then HerceptinR would most likely not affect the course of the disease.
The authors analysed 196 lymph node-negative primary tumours, 196 lymph node-positive primary tumours, and three different lymph node metastases. For Her-2 positive primary tumours, 77% (95% confidence intervals [CI] = 59% to 90%) had entirely Her-2 positive metastases, 6.5% (95% CI = 8% to 21%) had entirely Her-2 negative metastases, and 16.3% (95% CI = 5% to 34%) had a mixture of Her-2 positive and Her-2 negative metastases. For Her-2 negative primary tumours, 95% (95% CI = 88% to 98%) had entirely Her-2 negative metastases. The authors conclude that this data suggest that differences in Her-2 expression between primary tumours and their lymph node metastases cannot explain the high fraction of nonresponders to HerceptinR.
Tissue microarray, FISH, immunohistochemistry, Fisher's exact test
Cardoso F, Di Leo A, Larsimont D, Gancberg D, Rouas G, Dolci S, Ferreira F, Paesmans M, Piccart M: Evaluation of HER2, p53, bcl-2, topoisomerase II-a, heat shock proteins 27 and 70 in primary breast cancer and metastatic ipsilateral axillary lymph nodes. Ann Oncol 2001, 12:615-620 (PubMed abstract).
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