Predictive signatures for chemotherapy sensitivity in breast cancer: are they ready for use in the clinic?

Eur J Cancer. 2009 Jul;45(10):1733-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2009.04.036. Epub 2009 May 26.


Markers that predict the sensitivity of tumours to chemotherapy must address two questions: (a) which tumours are more likely to respond to chemotherapy? and (b) what is the optimal chemotherapy regimen for a specific tumour or group of tumours? To answer these questions will require markers of general chemosensitivity and drug-specific chemosensitivity, respectively. Beyond these fundamental questions lies an important practical question: are the predictive markers in the current literature ready for routine clinical use? The focus of this paper is to address this practical question. We will first review retrospective trials that have reported promising chemotherapy signatures, presenting in a comprehensive manner for the non bio-informatician the different methods used so far. In addition, we will summarise prospective trials (either ongoing or under development) designed to test the multigene classifiers currently thought to predict chemosensitivity. Finally, we will discuss why microarray studies have so far failed to identify new targets, and how we might be able to improve on these results through large-scale genotyping of tumours.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antineoplastic Agents