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J Pathol. 2001 Oct;195(3):312-20.

Molecular classification of breast cancer patients by gene expression profiling.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, J.W. Goethe-University, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, D-60590 Frankfurt, Germany.


For many tumors, pathological subclasses exist which have to be further defined by genetic markers to improve therapy and follow-up strategies. In this study, cDNA array analyses of breast cancers have been performed to classify tumors into categories based on expression patterns. Comparing purified normal ductal epithelial cells and corresponding tumour tissues, the expression of only a small fraction of genes was found to be significantly changed. A subset of genes repeatedly found to be differentially expressed in breast cancers was subsequently employed to perform a classification of 82 normal and malignant breast specimens by cluster analysis. This analysis identifies a subgroup of transcriptionally related tumours, designated class A, which can be further subdivided into A1 and A2. Correlation with classical clinicopathological parameters revealed that subgroup A1 was characterized by a high number of node-positive tumours (14 of 16). In this subgroup there was a disproportionate number of patients who had already developed distant metastases at the time of diagnosis (25% in this subgroup, compared with 5% among the rest of the samples). Taken together, the use of these differentially expressed marker genes in conjunction with sample clustering algorithms provides a novel molecular classification of breast cancer specimens, which facilitates the identification of patients with a higher risk of recurrence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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