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Am J Cancer Res. 2015 Sep 15;5(10):2929-43. eCollection 2015.

Breast cancer intrinsic subtype classification, clinical use and future trends.

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National Engineering Laboratory for Cereal Fermentation Technology, School of Biotechnology, Jiangnan University Wuxi 214122, Jiangsu, China.
Bioengineering College, Chongqing University Chongqing, 404100, China.


Breast cancer is composed of multiple subtypes with distinct morphologies and clinical implications. The advent of microarrays has led to a new paradigm in deciphering breast cancer heterogeneity, based on which the intrinsic subtyping system using prognostic multigene classifiers was developed. Subtypes identified using different gene panels, though overlap to a great extent, do not completely converge, and the avail of new information and perspectives has led to the emergence of novel subtypes, which complicate our understanding towards breast tumor heterogeneity. This review explores and summarizes the existing intrinsic subtypes, patient clinical features and management, commercial signature panels, as well as various information used for tumor classification. Two trends are pointed out in the end on breast cancer subtyping, i.e., either diverging to more refined groups or converging to the major subtypes. This review improves our understandings towards breast cancer intrinsic classification, current status on clinical application, and future trends.


Breast cancer; classification; clinical use; gene expression profiling; heterogeneity; intrinsic subtype; signature; trends


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