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PLoS One. 2009 Jun 15;4(6):e5911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005911.

Comparison of prognostic gene profiles using qRT-PCR in paraffin samples: a retrospective study in patients with early breast cancer.

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Service of Oncology, Hospital La Paz, Madrid, Spain.



Gene profiling may improve prognostic accuracy in patients with early breast cancer, but this technology is not widely available. We used commercial assays for qRT-PCR to assess the performance of the gene profiles included in the 70-Gene Signature, the Recurrence Score and the Two-Gene Ratio.


153 patients with early breast cancer and a minimum follow-up of 5 years were included. All tumours were positive for hormonal receptors and 38% had positive lymph nodes; 64% of patients received adjuvant chemotherapy. RNA was extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens using a specific kit. qRT-PCR amplifications were performed with TaqMan Gene Expression Assays products. We applied the three gene-expression-based models to our patient cohort to compare the predictions derived from these gene sets.


After a median follow-up of 91 months, 22% of patients relapsed. The distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) at 5 years was calculated for each profile. For the 70-Gene Signature, DMFS was 95% -good prognosis- versus 66% -poor prognosis. In the case of the Recurrence Score, DMFS was 98%, 81% and 69% for low, intermediate and high-risk groups, respectively. Finally, for the Two-Gene Ratio, DMFS was 86% versus 70%. The 70-Gene Signature and the Recurrence Score were highly informative in identifying patients with distant metastasis, even in multivariate analysis.


Commercially available assays for qRT-PCR can be used to assess the prognostic utility of previously published gene expression profiles in FFPE material from patients with early breast cancer. Our results, with the use of a different platform and with different material, confirm the robustness of the 70-Gene Signature and represent an independent test for the Recurrence Score, using different primer/probe sets.

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