Epidermal growth factor receptor expression correlates with poor survival in patients who have breast carcinoma treated with doxorubicin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Cancer. 2005 Aug 15;104(4):676-81. doi: 10.1002/cncr.21217.


Background: To the authors' knowledge there are few data that correlate the expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with the outcome of patients who have breast carcinoma and are treated with anthracycline chemotherapy.

Methods: Pretreatment tumor tissue samples were available from 82 patients who had locally advanced breast carcinoma and were treated on 2 protocols investigating neoadjuvant 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy. Immunohistochemical staining for EGFR (diluted 1:50) was performed, and the staining results were interpreted without knowledge of outcome.

Results: Fourteen tumors (17%) were EGFR-positive, and 68 tumors (83%) were EGFR-negative. EGFR expression did not correlate with clinical stage (P = 0.361), HER-2/neu overexpression (P = 0.503), estrogen or progesterone receptor status (P = 0.631 and P = 0.838, respectively), nuclear grade (P = 0.448), or proliferative index (P = 0.769). Patients who had EGFR-positive tumors had a worse 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) rate (46% vs. 76%; P = 0.026) and overall survival (OS) rate (46% vs. 76%; P = 0.037) compared with patients who had EGFR-negative tumors. The pathologic complete response rate did not differ between the 2 groups (P = 0.389), although patients with EGFR-positive disease more commonly had > or = 4 positive lymph nodes after chemotherapy (64% vs. 29%; P = 0.028). EGFR expression continued to show a significant correlation with poorer DFS and OS in a Cox regression analysis model that included the presence or absence of four or more lymph nodes and EGFR status.

Conclusions: EGFR expression may have prognostic significance in patients with locally advanced breast carcinoma who are treated with anthracycline chemotherapy. These data warrant further studies aimed at correlating EGFR expression and outcome in patients who have breast carcinoma treated with doxorubicin-based chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • ErbB Receptors / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Fluorouracil