EpCAM expression is an indicator of recurrence in basal-like breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jun;133(2):575-82. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1813-7. Epub 2011 Oct 15.


Advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of breast cancer have necessitated a definition of more sensitive and specific indicators of prognosis that are central to the underlying cancer biology and that reflect the complicated and heterogeneous nature of the disease. This study investigates the expression of epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) in breast cancer particularly basal-like phenotype group which remains unclear. EpCAM expression was assessed using immunohistochemistry in a large well-characterised series of breast carcinomas prepared as tissue microarrays. Relationships between EpCAM expression with molecular subtypes, clinicopathological variables and patients' outcome were examined. EpCAM expression was associated with higher tumour grade (P < 0.001), larger tumour size (P < 0.001) and basal phenotype (P = 0.03). Importantly, within the basal-like tumours those positive for EpCAM showed a significantly shorter DFI (LR = 7.97, P = 0.005) and MFS (LR 4.01, P = 0.045). EpCAM may play a role in breast cancer progression and its expression is associated with poor patient outcome in basal-like breast cancer, independent of other prognostic factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / mortality
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule