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Int J Cancer. 2005 Feb 10;113(4):678-82.

C-Met overexpression in node-positive breast cancer identifies patients with poor clinical outcome independent of Her2/neu.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Chicago, Mail Code 2050, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Receptor tyrosine kinases play an important role in malignant transformation of epithelial cells by activating signal transduction pathways important for proliferation, invasion and metastasis. In a pilot study (n = 40), we evaluated expression of the c-Met and Her2/neu receptor tyrosine kinases and the c-Met ligand hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) in primary breast cancers and their lymph node metastases using both conventional immunohistochemistry and confocal immunofluorescence. Neither c-Met and HGF/SF nor Her2/neu expression correlated with established prognostic factors such as age, lymph node involvement, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), tumor size, or grade. Both staining methods confirmed a significant correlation between c-Met overexpression and a high risk of disease progression. Furthermore, among tumors with c-Met overexpression, only 50% also overexpress Her2/neu, thus identifying a subset of patients with aggressive disease in addition to Her2/neu. Median disease-free survival in patients with c-Met overexpressing tumors was 8 months compared to 53 months when c-Met expression was low (p = 0.037; RR = 3.0). This significant impact of c-Met on tumor aggressiveness independent of Her2/neu was also confirmed by multivariate analysis. In conclusion, the role of c-Met expression as a prognostic variable and consequently as an interesting target for novel therapeutic approaches deserves further analysis in a larger cohort of patients.

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