c-Kit expression as a prognostic molecular marker in patients with basal-like breast cancer.


As patients with basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) have a poor prognosis and there is no specifically tailored therapy, molecular biological characterization of BLBC is necessary. c-Kit is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase known to play important roles in various solid cancers. This study classified BLBCs from patients with breast carcinoma, and addressed the significance of c-Kit expression in these tumours.

Primary breast tumours were stained with antibodies against oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) 2, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), cytokeratin 5/6 and c-Kit. The association between c-Kit, BLBC and survival was analysed.

A total of 667 patients with breast cancer were followed up for a median of 39 (range 6-72) months. Some 190 tumours (28·5 per cent) were classified as triple-negative for breast cancer (negative for oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and HER2) and 149 (78·4 per cent) had characteristics of BLBC (positive for cytokeratin 5/6 and/or EGFR). c-Kit expression was detected in 111 (16·6 per cent) of 667 tumours. c-Kit-positive tumours were more commonly found among patients with BLBC (42 of 149, 28·2 per cent; P < 0·001) and in patients with nodal metastasis (47 of 216, 21·8 per cent; P = 0·014) than in those without. In patients with BLBC, the prognosis was significantly worse in those with c-Kit expression (P < 0·001). Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed c-Kit as an independent negative prognostic factor for cancer-specific survival in patients with BLBC (hazard ratio 2·29, 95 per cent confidence interval 1·11 to 4·72).

c-Kit might be a prognostic marker and possible molecular target for therapy in patients with BLBC.


One biomarker makes reference to this publication:

  • Aomatsu N
  • Hirakawa K
  • Ishikawa T
  • Kashiwagi S
  • Kawajiri H
  • Ogawa Y
  • Onoda N
  • Takashima T
  • Wakasa K
  • Yashiro M
PubMed ID
Appears In
Br J Surg, 2013, 100 (4)