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Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Mar 1;12(5):1501-6.

Changes of topoisomerase IIalpha expression in breast tumors after neoadjuvant chemotherapy predicts relapse-free survival.

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G. D'Annunzio University Foundation and Department of Oncology and Neurosciences, University G. D'Annunzio Medical School, Chieti, Italy.



To assess the value of changes in the expression of topoisomerase IIalpha (TopoII) and the proto-oncogene erbB-2 (HER-2) as predictors of relapse-free survival in women with operable breast cancer treated with anthracycline-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy.


Seventy-seven patients with primary breast cancer who had undergone neoadjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy were included in the present study. TopoII and HER-2 were measured by immunohistochemistry in prechemotherapy and postchemotherapy (at the time of surgery) tumor specimens, and the value of their changes as predictors of relapse-free survival were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazard regression analyses.


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy resulted in a significant reduction in the percentage of cells expressing TopoII (P < 0.0001). No significant change was observed for HER-2. TopoII and HER-2 expression before chemotherapy predicted tumor response to treatment. Changes in TopoII expression after chemotherapy were strongly associated with a poor relapse-free survival (P < 0.0001) in a Cox multivariate analysis adjusted for other clinicopathologic prognostic factors.


Changes in TopoII expression after anthracycline-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy is an independent predictor of a poor relapse-free survival in patients with breast cancer. Tumor cells displaying an increased TopoII expression after treatment may be responsible for relapses, and may, therefore, define a group of patients with anthracycline-resistant breast cancer.

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