Elevated expression of cyclooxygenase-2 is a negative prognostic factor for disease free survival and overall survival in patients with breast carcinoma

Cancer. 2003 Jun 15;97(12):2978-87. doi: 10.1002/cncr.11437.


Background: Cyclooxygenases regulate the production of prostaglandins and play a role in tumor development and progression. The authors investigated the prognostic impact of expression of the cyclooxygenase (COX) isoforms, COX-1 and COX-2, on disease-free survival and progression-free survival in patients with primary breast carcinoma as well as the association between COX expression and other clinicopathologic parameters.

Methods: In this study COX isoform expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in a cohort of 221 patients with primary breast carcinoma.

Results: Expression of COX-2 was detected in 36% of breast carcinoma samples and was associated significantly with several clinicopathologic parameters, including positive lymph node status (P < 0.0005), larger tumor size (P < 0.0005), poor differentiation (P < 0.0005), vascular invasion (P = 0.03), and negative estrogen receptor status (P = 0.04). In contrast, COX-1 was expressed in 45% of tumors and was associated with smaller tumor size (P = 0.02) and with negative lymph node status (P = 0.01). In a univariate survival analysis, a significant association was observed between elevated COX-2 expression and decreases in disease-free survival (P = 0.0007) and overall survival (P = 0.02). In a multivariate analysis, expression of COX-2 was of borderline significance for disease-free survival (relative risk, 1.90; 95% confidence interval, 1.00-3.59), adjusting for tumor size, histologic grade, number of positive lymph nodes, and patient age. Elevated expression of COX-1 in tumor tissue had no statistically significant influence on patient prognosis.

Conclusions: The current data suggest that increased expression of COX-2 may play a role in the progression of primary breast carcinoma. It remains to be investigated whether treatment with selective inhibitors of COX-2 may be an additional therapeutic option for patients with breast carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma / enzymology*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS1 protein, human
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases