The HER-2/neu oncogene is a member of the erbB-like oncogene family, and is related to, but distinct from, the epidermal growth factor receptor. This gene has been shown to be amplified in human breast cancer cell lines. In the current study, alterations of the gene in 189 primary human breast cancers were investigated. HER-2/neu was found to be amplified from 2- to greater than 20-fold in 30% of the tumors. Correlation of gene amplification with several disease parameters was evaluated. Amplification of the HER-2/neu gene was a significant predictor of both overall survival and time to relapse in patients with breast cancer. It retained its significance even when adjustments were made for other known prognostic factors. Moreover, HER-2/neu amplification had greater prognostic value than most currently used prognostic factors, including hormonal-receptor status, in lymph node-positive disease. These data indicate that this gene may play a role in the biologic behavior and/or pathogenesis of human breast cancer.Read more
Quinquennial overviews (1985-2000) of the randomised trials in early breast cancer have assessed the 5 year and 10-year effects of various systemic adjuvant therapies on breast cancer recurrence and survival. Here, we report the 10-year and 15-year effects.
Collaborative meta-analyses were undertaken of 194 unconfounded randomised trials of adjuvant chemotherapy or hormonal therapy that began by 1995. Many trials involved CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, fluorouracil), anthracycline-based combinations such as FAC (fluorouracil, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide) or FEC (fluorouracil, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide), tamoxifen, or ovarian suppression: none involved taxanes, trastuzumab, raloxifene, or modern aromatase inhibitors.
Allocation to about 6 months of anthracycline-based polychemotherapy (eg, with FAC or FEC) reduces the annual breast cancer death rate by about 38% (SE 5) for women younger than 50 years of age when diagnosed and by about 20% (SE 4) for those of age 50-69 years when diagnosed, largely irrespective of the use of tamoxifen and of oestrogen receptor (ER) status, nodal status, or other tumour characteristics. Such regimens are significantly (2p=0.0001 for recurrence, 2p<0.00001 for breast cancer mortality) more effective than CMF chemotherapy. Few women of age 70 years or older entered these chemotherapy trials. For ER-positive disease only, allocation to about 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen reduces the annual breast cancer death rate by 31% (SE 3), largely irrespective of the use of chemotherapy and of age (<50, 50-69, > or =70 years), progesterone receptor status, or other tumour characteristics. 5 years is significantly (2p<0.00001 for recurrence, 2p=0.01 for breast cancer mortality) more effective than just 1-2 years of tamoxifen. For ER-positive tumours, the annual breast cancer mortality rates are similar during years 0-4 and 5-14, as are the proportional reductions in them by 5 years of tamoxifen, so the cumulative reduction in mortality is more than twice as big at 15 years as at 5 years after diagnosis. These results combine six meta-analyses: anthracycline-based versus no chemotherapy (8000 women); CMF-based versus no chemotherapy (14,000); anthracycline-based versus CMF-based chemotherapy (14,000); about 5 years of tamoxifen versus none (15,000); about 1-2 years of tamoxifen versus none (33,000); and about 5 years versus 1-2 years of tamoxifen (18,000). Finally, allocation to ovarian ablation or suppression (8000 women) also significantly reduces breast cancer mortality, but appears to do so only in the absence of other systemic treatments. For middle-aged women with ER-positive disease (the commonest type of breast cancer), the breast cancer mortality rate throughout the next 15 years would be approximately halved by 6 months of anthracycline-based chemotherapy (with a combination such as FAC or FEC) followed by 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen. For, if mortality reductions of 38% (age <50 years) and 20% (age 50-69 years) from such chemotherapy were followed by a further reduction of 31% from tamoxifen in the risks that remain, the final mortality reductions would be 57% and 45%, respectively (and, the trial results could well have been somewhat stronger if there had been full compliance with the allocated treatments). Overall survival would be comparably improved, since these treatments have relatively small effects on mortality from the aggregate of all other causes.
Some of the widely practicable adjuvant drug treatments that were being tested in the 1980s, which substantially reduced 5-year recurrence rates (but had somewhat less effect on 5-year mortality rates), also substantially reduce 15-year mortality rates. Further improvements in long-term survival could well be available from newer drugs, or better use of older drugs.Read more
The role of the adaptive immune response in controlling the growth and recurrence of human tumors has been controversial. We characterized the tumor-infiltrating immune cells in large cohorts of human colorectal cancers by gene expression profiling and in situ immunohistochemical staining. Collectively, the immunological data (the type, density, and location of immune cells within the tumor samples) were found to be a better predictor of patient survival than the histopathological methods currently used to stage colorectal cancer. The results were validated in two additional patient populations. These data support the hypothesis that the adaptive immune response influences the behavior of human tumors. In situ analysis of tumor-infiltrating immune cells may therefore be a valuable prognostic tool in the treatment of colorectal cancer and possibly other malignancies.Read more
Morphological assessment of the degree of differentiation has been shown in numerous studies to provide useful prognostic information in breast cancer, but until recently histological grading has not been accepted as a routine procedure, mainly because of perceived problems with reproducibility and consistency. In the Nottingham/Tenovus Primary Breast Cancer Study the most commonly used method, described by Bloom & Richardson, has been modified in order to make the criteria more objective. The revised technique involves semiquantitative evaluation of three morphological features--the percentage of tubule formation, the degree of nuclear pleomorphism and an accurate mitotic count using a defined field area. A numerical scoring system is used and the overall grade is derived from a summation of individual scores for the three variables: three grades of differentiation are used. Since 1973, over 2200 patients with primary operable breast cancer have been entered into a study of multiple prognostic factors. Histological grade, assessed in 1831 patients, shows a very strong correlation with prognosis; patients with grade I tumours have a significantly better survival than those with grade II and III tumours (P less than 0.0001). These results demonstrate that this method for histological grading provides important prognostic information and, if the grading protocol is followed consistently, reproducible results can be obtained. Histological grade forms part of the multifactorial Nottingham prognostic index, together with tumour size and lymph node stage, which is used to stratify individual patients for appropriate therapy.Read more
Postoperative chemoradiotherapy is the recommended standard therapy for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. In recent years, encouraging results with preoperative radiotherapy have been reported. We compared preoperative chemoradiotherapy with postoperative chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced rectal cancer.
We randomly assigned patients with clinical stage T3 or T4 or node-positive disease to receive either preoperative or postoperative chemoradiotherapy. The preoperative treatment consisted of 5040 cGy delivered in fractions of 180 cGy per day, five days per week, and fluorouracil, given in a 120-hour continuous intravenous infusion at a dose of 1000 mg per square meter of body-surface area per day during the first and fifth weeks of radiotherapy. Surgery was performed six weeks after the completion of chemoradiotherapy. One month after surgery, four five-day cycles of fluorouracil (500 mg per square meter per day) were given. Chemoradiotherapy was identical in the postoperative-treatment group, except for the delivery of a boost of 540 cGy. The primary end point was overall survival.
Four hundred twenty-one patients were randomly assigned to receive preoperative chemoradiotherapy and 402 patients to receive postoperative chemoradiotherapy. The overall five-year survival rates were 76 percent and 74 percent, respectively (P=0.80). The five-year cumulative incidence of local relapse was 6 percent for patients assigned to preoperative chemoradiotherapy and 13 percent in the postoperative-treatment group (P=0.006). Grade 3 or 4 acute toxic effects occurred in 27 percent of the patients in the preoperative-treatment group, as compared with 40 percent of the patients in the postoperative-treatment group (P=0.001); the corresponding rates of long-term toxic effects were 14 percent and 24 percent, respectively (P=0.01).
Preoperative chemoradiotherapy, as compared with postoperative chemoradiotherapy, improved local control and was associated with reduced toxicity but did not improve overall survival.Read more
Mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene have been identified in specimens from patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who have a response to anilinoquinazoline EGFR inhibitors. Despite the dramatic responses to such inhibitors, most patients ultimately have a relapse. The mechanism of the drug resistance is unknown. Here we report the case of a patient with EGFR-mutant, gefitinib-responsive, advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who had a relapse after two years of complete remission during treatment with gefitinib. The DNA sequence of the EGFR gene in his tumor biopsy specimen at relapse revealed the presence of a second point mutation, resulting in threonine-to-methionine amino acid change at position 790 of EGFR. Structural modeling and biochemical studies showed that this second mutation led to gefitinib resistance.Read more
PURPOSE To improve on current standards for breast cancer prognosis and prediction of chemotherapy benefit by developing a risk model that incorporates the gene expression-based "intrinsic" subtypes luminal A, luminal B, HER2-enriched, and basal-like. METHODS A 50-gene subtype predictor was developed using microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction data from 189 prototype samples. Test sets from 761 patients (no systemic therapy) were evaluated for prognosis, and 133 patients were evaluated for prediction of pathologic complete response (pCR) to a taxane and anthracycline regimen.
The intrinsic subtypes as discrete entities showed prognostic significance (P = 2.26E-12) and remained significant in multivariable analyses that incorporated standard parameters (estrogen receptor status, histologic grade, tumor size, and node status). A prognostic model for node-negative breast cancer was built using intrinsic subtype and clinical information. The C-index estimate for the combined model (subtype and tumor size) was a significant improvement on either the clinicopathologic model or subtype model alone. The intrinsic subtype model predicted neoadjuvant chemotherapy efficacy with a negative predictive value for pCR of 97%. CONCLUSION Diagnosis by intrinsic subtype adds significant prognostic and predictive information to standard parameters for patients with breast cancer. The prognostic properties of the continuous risk score will be of value for the management of node-negative breast cancers. The subtypes and risk score can also be used to assess the likelihood of efficacy from neoadjuvant chemotherapy.Read more
Minimally invasive, laparoscopically assisted surgery was first considered in 1990 for patients undergoing colectomy for cancer. Concern that this approach would compromise survival by failing to achieve a proper oncologic resection or adequate staging or by altering patterns of recurrence (based on frequent reports of tumor recurrences within surgical wounds) prompted a controlled trial evaluation.
We conducted a noninferiority trial at 48 institutions and randomly assigned 872 patients with adenocarcinoma of the colon to undergo open or laparoscopically assisted colectomy performed by credentialed surgeons. The median follow-up was 4.4 years. The primary end point was the time to tumor recurrence.
At three years, the rates of recurrence were similar in the two groups--16 percent among patients in the group that underwent laparoscopically assisted surgery and 18 percent among patients in the open-colectomy group (two-sided P=0.32; hazard ratio for recurrence, 0.86; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.63 to 1.17). Recurrence rates in surgical wounds were less than 1 percent in both groups (P=0.50). The overall survival rate at three years was also very similar in the two groups (86 percent in the laparoscopic-surgery group and 85 percent in the open-colectomy group; P=0.51; hazard ratio for death in the laparoscopic-surgery group, 0.91; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.21), with no significant difference between groups in the time to recurrence or overall survival for patients with any stage of cancer. Perioperative recovery was faster in the laparoscopic-surgery group than in the open-colectomy group, as reflected by a shorter median hospital stay (five days vs. six days, P<0.001) and briefer use of parenteral narcotics (three days vs. four days, P<0.001) and oral analgesics (one day vs. two days, P=0.02). The rates of intraoperative complications, 30-day postoperative mortality, complications at discharge and 60 days, hospital readmission, and reoperation were very similar between groups.
In this multi-institutional study, the rates of recurrent cancer were similar after laparoscopically assisted colectomy and open colectomy, suggesting that the laparoscopic approach is an acceptable alternative to open surgery for colon cancer.Read more
In early breast cancer, variations in local treatment that substantially affect the risk of locoregional recurrence could also affect long-term breast cancer mortality. To examine this relationship, collaborative meta-analyses were undertaken, based on individual patient data, of the relevant randomised trials that began by 1995.
Information was available on 42,000 women in 78 randomised treatment comparisons (radiotherapy vs no radiotherapy, 23,500; more vs less surgery, 9300; more surgery vs radiotherapy, 9300). 24 types of local treatment comparison were identified. To help relate the effect on local (ie, locoregional) recurrence to that on breast cancer mortality, these were grouped according to whether or not the 5-year local recurrence risk exceeded 10% (<10%, 17,000 women; >10%, 25,000 women).
About three-quarters of the eventual local recurrence risk occurred during the first 5 years. In the comparisons that involved little (<10%) difference in 5-year local recurrence risk there was little difference in 15-year breast cancer mortality. Among the 25,000 women in the comparisons that involved substantial (>10%) differences, however, 5-year local recurrence risks were 7% active versus 26% control (absolute reduction 19%), and 15-year breast cancer mortality risks were 44.6% versus 49.5% (absolute reduction 5.0%, SE 0.8, 2p<0.00001). These 25,000 women included 7300 with breast-conserving surgery (BCS) in trials of radiotherapy (generally just to the conserved breast), with 5-year local recurrence risks (mainly in the conserved breast, as most had axillary clearance and node-negative disease) 7% versus 26% (reduction 19%), and 15-year breast cancer mortality risks 30.5% versus 35.9% (reduction 5.4%, SE 1.7, 2p=0.0002; overall mortality reduction 5.3%, SE 1.8, 2p=0.005). They also included 8500 with mastectomy, axillary clearance, and node-positive disease in trials of radiotherapy (generally to the chest wall and regional lymph nodes), with similar absolute gains from radiotherapy; 5-year local recurrence risks (mainly at these sites) 6% versus 23% (reduction 17%), and 15-year breast cancer mortality risks 54.7% versus 60.1% (reduction 5.4%, SE 1.3, 2p=0.0002; overall mortality reduction 4.4%, SE 1.2, 2p=0.0009). Radiotherapy produced similar proportional reductions in local recurrence in all women (irrespective of age or tumour characteristics) and in all major trials of radiotherapy versus not (recent or older; with or without systemic therapy), so large absolute reductions in local recurrence were seen only if the control risk was large. To help assess the life-threatening side-effects of radiotherapy, the trials of radiotherapy versus not were combined with those of radiotherapy versus more surgery. There was, at least with some of the older radiotherapy regimens, a significant excess incidence of contralateral breast cancer (rate ratio 1.18, SE 0.06, 2p=0.002) and a significant excess of non-breast-cancer mortality in irradiated women (rate ratio 1.12, SE 0.04, 2p=0.001). Both were slight during the first 5 years, but continued after year 15. The excess mortality was mainly from heart disease (rate ratio 1.27, SE 0.07, 2p=0.0001) and lung cancer (rate ratio 1.78, SE 0.22, 2p=0.0004).
In these trials, avoidance of a local recurrence in the conserved breast after BCS and avoidance of a local recurrence elsewhere (eg, the chest wall or regional nodes) after mastectomy were of comparable relevance to 15-year breast cancer mortality. Differences in local treatment that substantially affect local recurrence rates would, in the hypothetical absence of any other causes of death, avoid about one breast cancer death over the next 15 years for every four local recurrences avoided, and should reduce 15-year overall mortality.Read more
To compare the clinical features, natural history, and outcomes for women with "triple-negative" breast cancer with women with other types of breast cancer.
We studied a cohort of 1,601 patients with breast cancer, diagnosed between January 1987 and December 1997 at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. Triple-negative breast cancers were defined as those that were estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, and HER2neu negative. The prognostic significance of triple-negative breast cancer was explored.
The median follow-up time of the 1,601 women was 8.1 years. One hundred and eighty of 1,601 patients (11.2%) had triple-negative breast cancer. Compared with other women with breast cancer, those with triple-negative breast cancer had an increased likelihood of distant recurrence (hazard ratio, 2.6; 95% confidence interval, 2.0-3.5; P < 0.0001) and death (hazard ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.3-4.5; P < 0.001) within 5 years of diagnosis but not thereafter. The pattern of recurrence was also qualitatively different; among the triple-negative group, the risk of distant recurrence peaked at approximately 3 years and declined rapidly thereafter. Among the "other" group, the recurrence risk seemed to be constant over the period of follow-up.
Triple-negative breast cancers have a more aggressive clinical course than other forms of breast cancer, but the adverse effect is transient.Read more