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Clinical Oncology/Epidemiology

c-erbB-2 oncoprotein expression in primary and advanced breast cancer

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 July 1991


Immunoreactivity for c-erbB-2 oncogene product expression has been investigated in patients with breast cancer using the polyclonal antibody 21N. Three series of patients were studied, 602 presenting with primary operable cancer, 57 with stage 3 and 123 with stage 4 disease. Representative tissue sections of each primary tumour were stained using a standard immunoperoxidase technique. Invasive tumour membrane immunoreactivity was assessed and identified in 15% of patients with primary operable cancer and 20% in the advanced breast cancer group. The results demonstrate a relationship between poorer survival and oncogene expression in all three patient groups. Patients in the primary operable cancer group with membrane oncoprotein expression had a poorer outcome, 35% 10-year survival, compared with those in which membrane expression was absent, 55% 10-year survival. The median survival of patients with stage 3 disease with c-erbB-2 membrane positivity was 17 months compared to 24 months with membrane negativity. In stage 4 disease median survival with membrane expression was 8.8 months compared to 19.7 months with no membrane expression. In addition in the series of primary cancers a correlation existed between histological grade and membrane immunoreactivity. Multivariate analysis showed histological grade to be a more powerful prognostic factor than c-erbB-2 protein expression. In conclusion, this study demonstrates, in a large series of patients presenting to one centre, that c-erbB-2 protein expression is a prognostic indicator in patients with primary operable and advanced breast disease.

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Lovekin, C., Ellis, I., Locker, A. et al. c-erbB-2 oncoprotein expression in primary and advanced breast cancer. Br J Cancer 63, 439–443 (1991).

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