Data from basic research suggests that amplification of the proto-oncogene c-myc is important in breast cancer pathogenesis, but its frequency of amplification and prognostic relevance in human studies have been inconsistent. In an effort to clarify the clinical significance of c-myc amplification in breast cancer, we conducted a comprehensive literature search and a meta-analysis in which 29 studies were evaluated. The weighted average frequency of c-myc amplification in breast tumours was 15.7% (95% CI = 12.5-18.8%), although estimates in individual studies exhibited significant heterogeneity, P<0.0001. C-myc amplification exhibited significant but weak associations with tumour grade (RR = 1.61), lymph-node metastasis (RR = 1.24), negative progesterone receptor status (RR = 1.27), and postmenopausal status (RR = 0.82). Amplification was significantly associated with risk of relapse and death, with pooled estimates RR = 2.05 (95% CI = 1.51-2.78) and RR = 1.74 (95% CI = 1.27-2.39), respectively. This effect did not appear to be merely a surrogate for other prognostic factors. These results suggest that c-myc amplification is relatively common in breast cancer and may provide independent prognostic information. More rigorous studies with consistent methodology are required to validate this association, and to investigate its potential as a molecular predictor of specific therapy response.
Copyright 2000 Cancer Research Campaign.