Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) as a marker for poor prognosis in node-negative breast cancer patients: neu and tamoxifen failure

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1990 Dec 20;37(6):811-4. doi: 10.1016/0960-0760(90)90424-j.


Analysis of EGFr and ER was performed on tumour samples from 231 patients with operable breast cancer followed for up to 6 yr after surgery. The median duration of follow-up in patients still alive at the time of analysis was 45 months. Thirty-five percent of patients (82) had tumours greater than 10 fmol/mg 125I-EGF binding (EGFr+) and 47% (109) had cystolic ER concentration greater than 5 fmol/mg (ER+), with a marked inverse relationship between EGFr and ER (P less than 0.00001). EGFr was second only to axillary node status as a prognostic marker for all patients both in terms of relapse-free and overall survival (P less than 0.001, logrank EGFr+ vs EGFr-). For patients with histologically negative axillary nodes EGFr was superior to ER in predicting relapse and survival (P less than 0.01 and P less than 0.005, respectively, compared to P less than 0.1 and P less than 0.1, logrank). In a multivariate (Cox model) analysis only EGFr, out of EGFr, ER, size and grade, was predictive for either relapse-free or overall survival for patients with node-negative disease (P = 0.052 and P = 0.026, respectively). The correlation of neu expression with response to tamoxifen in patients with recurrent disease was assessed immunochemically. Response rate was reduced in the presence of neu from 50 to 17% for ER+ cases and from 26 to 0% for ER- cases.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tamoxifen
  • Epidermal Growth Factor