Review
. 2019 May; 30(7):1044-1050.
doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdz126.

Avoiding over- and undertreatment in patients with resected node-positive breast cancer with the use of gene expression signatures: are we there yet?

A Matikas 1 T Foukakis 2 S Swain 3 J Bergh 2 
Affiliations
  • PMID: 31131397
  •     63 References
  •     12 citations

Abstract

Prediction of benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy following resection of early breast cancer and, as a result, proper selection of candidates remains an elusive goal since the relative magnitude of benefit is the same regardless of the presence of clinicopathologic factors. Multiple studies, including randomized trials, establish the role of certain gene expression signatures in node-negative disease since they predict the risk of breast cancer relapse being so low that adjuvant chemotherapy can be omitted. In contrast, more limited data are available in higher risk, node-positive breast cancer patients, making the exclusion of adjuvant chemotherapy potentially hazardous. 'Prospective-retrospective' studies and limited prospective data show that several signatures, namely Oncotype Dx, MammaPrint, Prosigna, EndoPredict and Breast Cancer Index, select with different levels of success node-positive patients at very low risk for distant recurrence despite not receiving chemotherapy, although the long-term follow-up is still awaited. Pending, however the publication of the results from ongoing randomized studies which enroll patients with node-positive disease, major caution is warranted. Improper use and misinterpretation of these transcriptomic profiles can lead to undertreatment and exposure of patients to unnecessary risks resulting in increased breast cancer mortality for patients with axillary node-positive disease. With this review we critically discuss the available data on gene expression signatures that are used in clinical practice and offer practical recommendations regarding the management of patients with ER-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative, node-positive breast cancer.

Keywords: Oncotype Dx; adjuvant chemotherapy; breast cancer; gene expression signature; node-positive.

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