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Cell Prolif. 1998 Jun-Aug;31(3-4):113-26.

Prognosis and prediction of response in breast cancer: the current role of the main biological markers.

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Department of Oncology, Azienda USL Rimini, Italy.


In the medical literature there are frequently conflicting reports on the utility of biological tumour markers available in the clinical management of breast cancer. In this review we analyse current information on the relationships between the most widely investigated breast cancer biological markers including oestrogen and progesterone receptors, p53, Bcl-2, c-erbB-2, cyclin expression, proliferative activity, DNA ploidy and the urokinase plasminogen activation system, as well as their relevance to prognosis and response to clinical treatment. By biological prognostic indicator, we mean a marker that correlates with survival and disease-free survival; the term predictor marker indicates a marker that is capable of predicting tumour sensitivity or resistance to various therapies. Similarly to other authors' experiences, our analysis suggests that oestrogen receptors are weak prognostic indicators and good predictors of response to endocrine therapy. Furthermore, there are consistent data suggesting that proliferation indices are good indicators of prognosis, and that they are directly related to response to chemotherapy and closely related to response to hormonotherapy. On the contrary, there is no evidence or conflicting data for all of the other biological markers. These should be considered in the context of randomized trials in order to precisely define their prognostic and predictive roles. p53 and c-erbB-2 seem to be the most promising factors, but their use in routine practice still needs validation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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