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Int J Cancer. 1999 Apr 20;84(2):129-34.

c-erbB-2 (HER-2/neu) protein and drug resistance in breast cancer patients treated with induction chemotherapy.

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1
Laboratory of Reproduction and Lactaction, Regional Center for Scientific and Technological Research, Mendoza, Argentina.

Abstract

Expression of c-erbB-2 protein has been associated with poor prognosis and poor response to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. In the present prospective study, we have analyzed whether c-erbB-2, p53 and P170 proteins may be determinants of tumor resistance in locally advanced breast cancer patients treated with induction chemotherapy. Biopsies (n = 60) were examined by immuno-histochemistry; in 62% of cases core or incisional biopsies were taken before drug administration, allowing comparison in paired biopsies of the cytological and molecular changes induced by treatment Sixty percent of the patients received relatively high doses of FAC or FEC (5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin or epirubicin and cyclophosphamide), and 40% received relatively high doses of doxorubicin or epirubicin alone. No significant changes were observed in the molecular markers studied following chemotherapy; in the few biopsies where changes appeared, the changes did not exhibit any significant or similar trend. For 30 of the patients who received FAC/FEC treatment, follow-up reached a median of 34 months. In these cases, neither the clinical (reduction in tumor size) nor the histological (evaluated after neoadjuvant chemotherapy) responses showed statistically significant differences between the patients who developed distant metastases and the disease-free patients. c-erbB-2 was over-expressed in 50% of patients who developed distant metastases vs. 7% of the disease-free patients. Disease free survival (DFS) curves between c-erbB-2-positive and c-erbB-2-negative patients were statistically significant. No correlation between p53 or P170 expression with DFS was found. Our results suggest that c-erbB-2 protein expression is associated with development of distant metastases in breast cancer patients treated with relatively high doses of anthracyclines in induction chemotherapy.

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