UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Biological classification of clinical breast cancer using tissue microarrays Cheang, Maggie Chon U


Gene expression profiles have identified five major molecular breast cancer subtypes (Luminal A, Luminal B, Basal-like, HER2+/estrogen receptor− , and Normal Breast-like) that show significant differences in survival. The cost and complexity of gene expression technology has impeded its clinical implementation. By comparison, immunohistochemistry is an economical technique applicable to the standard formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded material commonly used in hospital labs, and has the advantage of simultaneously interpretation with histomorphology. In this thesis, I hypothesize that a surrogate panel of immunohistochemical biomarkers can be developed to discriminate the breast cancer biological subtypes. The main study cohort consists of over 4000 primary invasive breast tumors, assembled into tissue microarrays. These patients were referred to the British Columbia Cancer Agency between 1986-1992 and have staging, pathology, treatment and follow-up information. In summary, our results demonstrate that (1) the rabbit monoclonal antibody, SP1, is an improved standard for immunohistochemiscal estrogen receptor assessment in breast cancer; (2) the transcription factor, GATA-3, is almost exclusively expressed among estrogen receptor positive tumors but does not seem to predict for tamoxifen response among estrogen receptor positive patients; (3) the proliferation marker, Ki-67, together with HER2 can segregate Luminal A from Luminal B subtypes, which carry distinct risks for breast cancer relapse and death; and (4) the inclusion of the basal markers EGFR and ck5/6 to “triple negative” breast cancers provides a more specific definition of basal-like breast cancer that better predicts patient survival. These results consistently demonstrate that an immunopanel of six biomarkers (estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, HER2, Ki-67, epidermal growth factor receptor and cytokeratin 5/6) can be readily applied to standard pathology specimens to subtype breast cancer samples based on their underlying molecular biology. These findings have been considered sufficient to justify application of this panel onto NCIC (MA5, MA12) and CALGB (9341 and 9741) clinical trials specimens. This followup work which is underway and will determine if the six marker immunopanel can guide decisions about which patients need aggressive systemic drug treatment, and thereby ensure patients get the most effective, individualized adjuvant systemic therapy for their breast tumor.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International