Recent advances in high-throughput molecular technologies have made it possible to begin to tackle the molecular complexity of breast cancer and have contributed to the realisation that this biologic heterogeneity has implications for treatment. One of the major achievements of class discovery studies in breast cancer is the identification of a basal-like subtype that is characterised by absence of expression of hormone receptors and HER2 and has molecular features in common with basal/myoepithelial cells of the breast. Basal-like cancers have attracted attention as a poor prognostic class of tumours that lack the benefit of currently available targeted therapy. However, basal-like cancer as a distinct class of tumours, which share a specific molecular profile, are characterised by high proliferative activity and express specific markers, is a good candidate for development of specific targeted therapy. It is likely that in the near future, the ongoing research studies and clinical trials will provide an evidence-based approach to the best treatment strategy that can be applied to these tumours. In this review, we discuss the main features of basal-like tumours and recent evidence on the different available therapeutic approaches.
Copyright 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.