Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Young breast cancer patients have a decreased survival rate and it has been demonstrated that young age is an independent predictor of adverse prognosis. Overexpression of c-erbB-2 protein (also known as HER-2/neu) has been shown to be a prognostic indicator in breast cancer in general and especially among patients with axillary nodal metastases. The present study was initiated to determine the prognostic significance of c-erbB-2 protein overexpression in early onset breast cancer. A population consisting of 110 young breast cancer patients, ≤ 36-year-old at diagnosis, was analyzed with immunohistochemical staining for c-erbB-2 protein. Thirty patients (27%) were found to overexpress the c-erbB-2 protein. C-erbB-2 positivity was significantly associated with poor survival when all patients were included in the analysis (P = 0.002) and for patients with axillary nodal metastases (P = 0.0007). No such association was found for node-negative patients. Furthermore, the difference in prognosis in relation to c-erbB-2 among node-positive patients was maintained, when these were stratified in groups treated or not treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. The study indicates that overexpression of c-erbB-2 protein is a strong prognostic factor in young breast cancer patients with axillary nodal metastases. Moreover, the adverse prognosis associated with c-erbB-2 overexpression in node-positive patients was observed whether or not the patients had received adjuvant chemotherapy.
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