Purpose: According to current guidelines, molecular tests predicting the outcome of breast cancer patients can be used to assist in making treatment decisions after consideration of conventional markers. We developed and validated a gene expression signature predicting the likelihood of distant recurrence in patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy.
Experimental design: RNA levels assessed by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue were used to calculate a risk score (Endopredict, EP) consisting of eight cancer-related and three reference genes. EP was combined with nodal status and tumor size into a comprehensive risk score, EPclin. Both prespecified risk scores including cutoff values to determine a risk group for each patient (low and high) were validated independently in patients from two large randomized phase III trials [Austrian Breast and Colorectal Cancer Study Group (ABCSG)-6: n = 378, ABCSG-8: n = 1,324].
Results: In both validation cohorts, continuous EP was an independent predictor of distant recurrence in multivariate analysis (ABCSG-6: P = 0.010, ABCSG-8: P < 0.001). Combining Adjuvant!Online, quantitative ER, Ki67, and treatment with EP yielded a prognostic power significantly superior to the clinicopathologic factors alone [c-indices: 0.764 vs. 0.750, P = 0.024 (ABCSG-6) and 0.726 vs. 0.701, P = 0.003 (ABCSG-8)]. EPclin had c-indices of 0.788 and 0.732 and resulted in 10-year distant recurrence rates of 4% and 4% in EPclin low-risk and 28% and 22% in EPclin high-risk patients in ABCSG-6 (P < 0.001) and ABCSG-8 (P < 0.001), respectively.
Conclusions: The multigene EP risk score provided additional prognostic information to the risk of distant recurrence of breast cancer patients, independent from clinicopathologic parameters. The EPclin score outperformed all conventional clinicopathologic risk factors.