Molecular alterations associated with breast cancer mortality

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46814. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046814. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


Background: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease and patients with similar pathologies and treatments may have different clinical outcomes. Identification of molecular alterations associated with disease outcome may improve risk assessment and treatments for aggressive breast cancer.

Methods: Allelic imbalance (AI) data was generated for 122 invasive breast tumors with known clinical outcome. Levels and patterns of AI were compared between patients who died of disease (DOD) and those with ≥5 years disease-free survival (DFS) using Student t-test and chi-square analysis with a significance value of P<0.05.

Results: Levels of AI were significantly higher in tumors from the 31 DOD patients (28.6%) compared to the 91 DFS patients (20.1%). AI at chromosomes 7q31, 8p22, 13q14, 17p13.3, 17p13.1 and 22q12.3 was associated with DOD while AI at 16q22-q24 was associated with DFS. After multivariate analysis, AI at chromosome 8p22 remained an independent predictor of breast cancer mortality. The frequency of AI at chromosome 13q14 was significantly higher in patients who died ≥5 years compared to those who died <5 years from diagnosis.

Conclusion: Tumors from DOD compared to DFS patients are marked by increased genomic instability and AI at chromosome 8p22 is significantly associated with breast cancer morality, independent of other clinicopathological factors. AI at chromosome 13q14 was associated with late (>5-years post-diagnosis) mortality but not with death from disease within five years, suggesting that patients with short- and long-term mortality may have distinct genetic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Allelic Imbalance / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans

Grant support

This research was supported by a grant from the United States Department of Defense (Military Molecular Medicine Initiative MDA W81XWH-05-2-0075, Protocol 01–20006). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.