Functional relationship and gene ontology classification of breast cancer biomarkers

Int J Biol Markers. Oct-Dec 2003;18(4):241-72. doi: 10.5301/jbm.2008.1352.


Breast cancer is a complex disease that still imposes a significant healthcare burden on women worldwide. The etiology of breast cancer is not known but significant advances have been made in the area of early detection and treatment. The advent of advanced molecular biology techniques, mapping of the human genome and availability of high throughput genomic and proteomic strategies opens up new opportunities and will potentially lead to the discovery of novel biomarkers for early detection and prognostication of breast cancer. Currently, many biomarkers, particularly the hormonal and epidermal growth factor receptors, are being utilized for breast cancer prognosis. Unfortunately, none of the biomarkers in use have sufficient diagnostic, prognostic and/or predictive power across all categories and stages of breast cancer. It is recognized that more useful information can be generated if tumors are interrogated with multiple markers. But choosing the right combination of biomarkers is challenging, because 1) multiple pathways are involved, 2) up to 62 genes and their protein products are potentially involved in breast cancer-related mechanisms and 3) the more markers evaluated, the more the time and cost involved. This review summarizes the current literature on selected biomarkers for breast cancer, discusses the functional relationships, and groups the selected genes based on a Gene Ontology classification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / classification*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / genetics
  • Cell Cycle
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods
  • Female
  • Hormones
  • Humans
  • Male


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hormones