Expression of epidermal growth factor receptor in breast cancer, from early stages to advanced disease

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 1999 Sep;18(3):347-55.


Epidermal growth factor receptor was determined in 106 newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, using the biochemical method. The group consisted of 58 patients in stage I-II, and 48 patients in stage III-IV. Although a significant inverse correlation was found between EGF-R status, and ER or PR status, quantitative content of EGF-R did not correlate either with quantitative ER, or PR levels. The ER/PR content was similar in all clinical stages, suggesting their stability during the clinical course of the disease. EGF-R content was significantly higher in stage IV, compared to stage I, while intermediate clinical stages and all substages did not differ according to the EGF-R content. EGF-R was confirmed as a weak prognostic factor within clinical stages. However, in a whole group, the overall survival was significantly better in patients whose tumors EGF-R content was lower than 26 fmol/mg, compared to those with higher ERF-R content. EGF-R content was highly predictive for the response to systemic endocrine treatment, in metastatic breast cancer patients. In locally advanced breast cancer a trend towards higher levels of EGF-R was found in inflammatory breast cancers, compared to non-inflammatory ones. Slightly higher levels were found in responders to local non-endocrine primary treatments (radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy), compared to non-responders, suggesting the possible predictive role of EGF-R for the response to such treatments. Our results emphasized the usefulness of quantitative receptor determination suggesting the relative stability of EGF-R content during the clinical course of breast cancer, its independence from ER, its significant predictive and weak prognostic values, and a possible correlation with the aggressiveness of the disease, and response to non-endocrine treatments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • ErbB Receptors / biosynthesis*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Life Tables
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Receptors, Progesterone / analysis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • ErbB Receptors