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Gynecol Oncol. 2013 Sep;130(3):609-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2013.05.039. Epub 2013 Jun 6.

Distribution and prognosis of molecular breast cancer subtypes defined by immunohistochemical biomarkers in a Spanish population-based study.

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Epidemiology Unit and Girona Cancer Registry, Girona, Spain.



The objective of this study is to analyze the distribution, clinicopathological features, relative survival rate and excess risk of death among females diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and classified by molecular subtype from ten Spanish cancer registries.


Three thousand four hundred and eighty incident cases of women - mostly diagnosed in 2005 - were classified into five molecular subtypes according to immunohistochemical status of hormonal receptors and HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2): estrogen receptor (ER) and/or progesterone receptor (PR)+ and HER2-, ER+ and/or PR+ and HER2+, HER2-overexpressed (ER-, PR- and HER2+), triple negative (ER, PR and HER2-) and unclassified (hormonal receptor or/and HER2 unknown). Relative survival rates at 1, 3 and 5years and relative excess risks (RER) of death adjusting for molecular subtype, age, stage and histological grade were estimated.


Marked differences in clinicopathological characteristics and relative survival rate were observed between molecular subtypes. Compared with women with ER+ and/or PR+ and HER2-, ER+ and/or PR+ and HER2+ cases had an RER of 1.00 (95% CI: 0.66 to 1.52) after adjusting for age, stage and histological grade, whereas HER2-overexpressed, triple negative and women with unclassified subtypes presented an RER of 1.72 (95% CI: 1.15 to 2.57), 3.16 (95% CI: 2.26 to 4.41) and 2.55 (95% CI: 1.96 to 3.32), respectively.


The prognostic value of molecular subtype persists when adjusting for age, stage and histological grade. Hormone receptor-positive tumors were associated with a better prognosis when compared with HER2-overexpressed and triple negative subtypes. Further research is required to improve triple negative prognosis.


Breast cancer; HER2; Hormonal receptor; Molecular subtype; Relative survival

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