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Histopathology. 2012 May;60(6):854-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.03912.x. Epub 2011 Sep 10.

A review of the biological and clinical characteristics of luminal-like oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

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  • 1Division of Pathology, School of Molecular Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


Global gene expression profiling (GEP) studies of breast cancer have identified distinct biological classes with different clinical and therapeutic implications. Oestrogen receptor (ER) has been found to be a central marker of the molecular signature. GEP studies have consistently recognized a molecularly distinct class of tumours that is characterized by high-level expression of ER and other biomarkers recognized to be characteristic of normal luminal cells of the breast. This class is the largest of the GEP-defined molecular subclasses, comprising 60-70% of breast cancer cases. Moreover, it has been proposed that this group of tumours is composed of at least two subclasses distinguished by differing GEP profiles. At present, there is no consensus on the definition of the luminal subclasses and, in clinical practice, luminal-like tumours and ER-positive tumours are frequently considered to be the same. A better understanding of the biological features of luminal tumours could lead to their improved characterization and consistent identification. In this review, we explore the concept and definitions of the luminal-like class of breast carcinoma and their contribution to our understanding of their molecular features, clinical significance and therapeutic implications.

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