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Eur J Cancer. 2004 Aug;40(12):1837-41.

"Good Old" clinical markers have similar power in breast cancer prognosis as microarray gene expression profilers.

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  • 1Complex Systems Division, Department of Theoretical Physics, Lund University, Sölvegatan 14A, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden.


We compared the power of gene expression measurements with that of conventional prognostic markers, i.e., clinical, histopathological, and cell biological parameters, for predicting distant metastases in breast cancer patients using both established prognostic indices (e.g., the Nottingham Prognostic Index (NPI)) and novel combinations of conventional markers. We used publicly available data on 97 patients, and the performance of metastasis prediction was represented by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) areas and Kaplan-Meier plots. The gene expression profiler did not perform noticeably better than indices constructed from the clinical variables, e.g., the well established NPI. When analysing separately subgroups, according to the oestrogen receptor (ER) status both approaches could predict clinical outcome more easily for the ER-positive than for the ER-negative cohort. Given the time it may take before microarray processing is used worldwide, particularly due to the costs and the lack of standards, it is important to pursue research using conventional markers. Our analysis suggests that it might be possible to improve the combination of different conventional prognostic markers into one prognostic index.

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