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Histopathology. 2006 Jul;49(1):10-21.

Metaplastic breast carcinomas are basal-like tumours.

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The Breakthrough Toby Robins Breast Cancer Research Centre, Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.



Recently, an immunohistochemical panel comprising antibodies against HER2, oestrogen receptor (ER), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and cytokeratin (CK) 5/6 was reported to identify basal-like breast carcinomas, as defined by cDNA microarrays. Our aim was to analyse a series of metaplastic breast carcinomas (MBCs) using this panel plus two other basal markers (CK14 and p63) and progesterone receptor (PR), to define how frequently MBCs show a basal-like immunophenotype.


Sixty-five cases were retrieved from the pathology archives of the authors' institutions and reviewed by three of the authors. Immunohistochemistry with antibodies for HER2, ER, EGFR, CK5/6, CK14 and p63 was performed according to standard methods. All but six cases (91%) showed the typical immunoprofile of basal-like tumours (ER- and HER2-, EGFR+ and/or CK5/6+). When CK14 and p63 were added to the panel, two additional cases could be classified as basal-like. The majority of MBCs lacked PR, except 4/19 (21%) carcinomas with squamous metaplasia.


Our results demonstrate that MBCs show a basal-like phenotype, regardless of the type of metaplastic elements. Moreover, as these neoplasms frequently overexpress EGFR (57%), patients with MBC may benefit from treatment with anti-EGFR drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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