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.

Aomatsu N, Hirakawa K, Ishikawa T, Kashiwagi S, Kawajiri H, Ogawa Y, Onoda N, Takashima T, Wakasa K, Yashiro M


Br J Surg, 2013, 100 (4)

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