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Concept: HER2/neu


HER2 is an oncogene, expression of which leads to poor prognosis in 30% of breast cancer patients. Although trastuzumab is apparently an effective therapy against HER2-positive tumors, its systemic toxicity and resistance in the majority of patients restricts its applicability. In this study we evaluated the effects of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in HER2-positive breast cancer cells.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu, Oncogene


Background The administration of endocrine therapy for 5 years substantially reduces recurrence rates during and after treatment in women with early-stage, estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. Extending such therapy beyond 5 years offers further protection but has additional side effects. Obtaining data on the absolute risk of subsequent distant recurrence if therapy stops at 5 years could help determine whether to extend treatment. Methods In this meta-analysis of the results of 88 trials involving 62,923 women with ER-positive breast cancer who were disease-free after 5 years of scheduled endocrine therapy, we used Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses, stratified according to trial and treatment, to assess the associations of tumor diameter and nodal status (TN), tumor grade, and other factors with patients' outcomes during the period from 5 to 20 years. Results Breast-cancer recurrences occurred at a steady rate throughout the study period from 5 to 20 years. The risk of distant recurrence was strongly correlated with the original TN status. Among the patients with stage T1 disease, the risk of distant recurrence was 13% with no nodal involvement (T1N0), 20% with one to three nodes involved (T1N1-3), and 34% with four to nine nodes involved (T1N4-9); among those with stage T2 disease, the risks were 19% with T2N0, 26% with T2N1-3, and 41% with T2N4-9. The risk of death from breast cancer was similarly dependent on TN status, but the risk of contralateral breast cancer was not. Given the TN status, the factors of tumor grade (available in 43,590 patients) and Ki-67 status (available in 7692 patients), which are strongly correlated with each other, were of only moderate independent predictive value for distant recurrence, but the status regarding the progesterone receptor (in 54,115 patients) and human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) (in 15,418 patients in trials with no use of trastuzumab) was not predictive. During the study period from 5 to 20 years, the absolute risk of distant recurrence among patients with T1N0 breast cancer was 10% for low-grade disease, 13% for moderate-grade disease, and 17% for high-grade disease; the corresponding risks of any recurrence or a contralateral breast cancer were 17%, 22%, and 26%, respectively. Conclusions After 5 years of adjuvant endocrine therapy, breast-cancer recurrences continued to occur steadily throughout the study period from 5 to 20 years. The risk of distant recurrence was strongly correlated with the original TN status, with risks ranging from 10 to 41%, depending on TN status and tumor grade. (Funded by Cancer Research UK and others.).

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Cancer staging, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Epidermal growth factor, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu


Analysis of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) status has become standard of care in breast cancer patients due to its important prognostic and therapeutic implications. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is the most commonly used primary method for detection of HER-2 overexpression. Controversy exists on the interpretation of samples that are equivocal for HER 2 status (IHC 2+). Recent guidelines state that samples equivocal for HER 2 status require validation with fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH). The use of FISH, however, despite higher accuracy comes at a higher cost that is not affordable to all patients.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Carcinoma in situ, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Epidermal growth factor, Growth factor, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu


Trastuzumab improves survival in HER2+ breast cancer patients, with some evidence of adverse cardiac side effects. Current recommendations are to give adjuvant trastuzumab for one year or until recurrence, although trastuzumab treatment for only 9 or 10 weeks has shown similar survival rates to 12-month treatment. We present here a multi-arm joint analysis examining the relative cost-effectiveness of different durations of adjuvant trastuzumab.

Concepts: Health economics, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Chemotherapy, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu, Pharmacoeconomics


In the current genomic era, increasing evidence demonstrates that approximately 2% of HER2-negative breast cancers, by current standard testings, harbor activating mutations of ERBB2. However, whether patients with HER2-negative breast cancer with activating mutations of ERBB2 also experience response to anti-HER2 therapies remains unclear. This case report describes a patient with HER2-nonamplified heavily pretreated breast cancer who experienced prolonged response to trastuzumab in combination with pertuzumab and fulvestrant. Further molecular analysis demonstrated that her tumors had an elevated HER2 dimerization that corresponded to ERBB2 S310F mutation. Located in the extracellular domain of the HER2 protein, this mutation was reported to promote noncovalent dimerization that results in the activation of the downstream signaling pathways. This case highlights the fact that HER2-targeted therapy may be valuable in patients harboring an ERBB2 S310F mutation.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu, Tamoxifen


The Recurrence Score® is increasingly used in node-positive ER+ HER2-negative breast cancer. This retrospective analysis of a prospectively designed registry evaluated treatments/outcomes in node-positive breast cancer patients who were Recurrence Score-tested through Clalit Health Services from 1/2006 through 12/2011 (N = 709). Medical records were reviewed to verify treatments/recurrences/survival. Median follow-up, 5.9 years; median age, 62 years; 53.9% grade 2; 69.8% tumors ≤ 2 cm; 84.5% invasive ductal carcinoma; 42.0% N1mi, and 37.2%/15.5%/5.2% with ½/3 positive nodes; 53.4% Recurrence Score < 18, 36.4% Recurrence Score 18-30, and 10.2% Recurrence Score ≥ 31. Overall, 26.9% received adjuvant chemotherapy: 7.1%, 39.5%, and 86.1% in the Recurrence Score < 18, 18-30, and ≥ 31 group, respectively. The 5-year Kaplan-Meier estimates for distant recurrence were 3.2%, 6.3%, and 16.9% for these respective groups and the corresponding 5-year breast cancer death estimates were 0.5%, 3.4%, and 5.7%. In Recurrence Score < 18 patients, 5-year distant-recurrence rates for N1mi/1 positive node/2-3 positive nodes were 1.2%/4.4%/5.4%. As patients were not randomized to treatment and treatment decision is heavily influenced by Recurrence Score, analysis of 5-year distant recurrence by chemotherapy use was exploratory and should be interpreted cautiously: In Recurrence Score < 18, recurrence rate was 7.7% in chemotherapy-treated (n = 27) and 2.9% in chemotherapy-untreated patients (n = 352); P = 0.245. In Recurrence Score 18-30, recurrence rate in chemotherapy-treated patients (n = 102) was significantly lower than in untreated patients (n = 156) (1.0% vs. 9.7% P = 0.019); in Recurrence Score ≤ 25 (the RxPONDER study cutoff), recurrence rate was 2.3% in chemotherapy-treated (n = 89) and 4.4% in chemotherapy-untreated patients (n = 488); P = 0.521. In conclusion, our findings support using endocrine therapy alone in ER+ HER2-negative breast cancer patients with micrometastases/1-3 positive nodes and Recurrence Score < 18.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Mammary ductal carcinoma, Chemotherapy regimens, HER2/neu


Approximately, 25-30% of early-stage breast tumors are classified at the molecular level as HER2-positive, which is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer. Amplification of the HER2 gene in these tumors results in a substantial increase in HER2 mRNA levels, and consequently, HER2 protein levels. HER2, a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK), is targeted therapeutically by a monoclonal antibody, trastuzumab (Tz), which has dramatically improved the prognosis of HER2-driven breast cancers. However, ~30% of patients develop resistance to trastuzumab and recur; and nearly all patients with advanced disease develop resistance over time and succumb to the disease. Mechanisms of trastuzumab resistance (TzR) are not well understood, although some studies suggest that growth factor signaling through other receptors may be responsible. However, these studies were based on cell culture models of the disease, and thus, it is not known which pathways are driving the resistance in vivo. Using an integrative transcriptomic approach of RNA isolated from trastuzumab-sensitive and trastuzumab-resistant HER2+ tumors, and isogenic cell culture models, we identified a small set of mRNAs and lincRNAs that are associated with trastuzumab-resistance (TzR). Functional analysis of a top candidate gene, S100P, demonstrated that inhibition of S100P results in reversing TzR. Mechanistically, S100P activates the RAS/MEK/MAPK pathway to compensate for HER2 inhibition by trastuzumab. Finally, we demonstrated that the upregulation of S100P appears to be driven by epigenomic changes at the enhancer level. Our current findings should pave the path toward new therapies for breast cancer patients.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Cancer, Breast cancer, Signal transduction, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu


Biomedical big data, as a whole, covers numerous features, while each dataset specifically delineates part of them. “Full feature spectrum” knowledge discovery across heterogeneous data sources remains a major challenge. We developed a method called bootstrapping for unified feature association measurement (BUFAM) for pairwise association analysis, and relational dependency network (RDN) modeling for global module detection on features across breast cancer cohorts. Discovered knowledge was cross-validated using data from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s electronic medical records and annotated with BioCarta signaling signatures. The clinical potential of the discovered modules was exhibited by stratifying patients for drug responses. A series of discovered associations provided new insights into breast cancer, such as the effects of patient’s cultural background on preferences for surgical procedure. We also discovered two groups of highly associated features, the HER2 and the ER modules, each of which described how phenotypes were associated with molecular signatures, diagnostic features, and clinical decisions. The discovered “ER module”, which was dominated by cancer immunity, was used as an example for patient stratification and prediction of drug responses to tamoxifen and chemotherapy. BUFAM-derived RDN modeling demonstrated unique ability to discover clinically meaningful and actionable knowledge across highly heterogeneous biomedical big data sets.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Surgery, Chemotherapy, Learning, HER2/neu, Tamoxifen


Palbociclib (PD0332991) is a newly developed drug that received breakthrough designation and recent US Food and Drug Administration approval in combination with endocrine therapy in the treatment of hormone receptor positive, ERBB2-negative (formerly HER2 or HER2/neu) breast cancer in the first-line metastatic setting.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Signal transduction, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu, Tamoxifen


The Clinical Evaluation of Pertuzumab and Trastuzumab (CLEOPATRA) study showed a 15.7-month survival benefit with the addition of pertuzumab to docetaxel and trastuzumab (THP) as first-line treatment for patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) -overexpressing metastatic breast cancer. We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis to assess the value of adding pertuzumab.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Epidermal growth factor, Chemotherapy, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu