The relationship between prognostic and predictive factors in the management of breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1998;52(1-3):261-88. doi: 10.1023/a:1006141703224.


The discovery of new prognostic factors proceeds at a much more rapid pace than our knowledge of how to properly utilize this information in the management of patients with breast cancer, especially those with early breast cancer that has not metastasized to regional lymph nodes. Prognostic factors provide information on how the patient is likely to do regardless of treatment. Predictive factors provide information on whether a patient is likely to benefit from therapy. Most factors identified to date provide prognostic information, but relatively few provide information that is truly helpful in making a therapeutic decision in the management of individual patients. In large part this is because there has been insufficient study of the factor, especially prospective evaluations of the factor. Unfortunately this has resulted in the premature use of this information under the general rubric that patients with a poor prognosis deserve more treatment in spite of the fact that there may be no benefit from that therapy in the poor prognostic group.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptor, ErbB-2