Prognostic factors in the myoepithelial-like spindle cell type of metaplastic breast cancer

Virchows Arch. 2016 Aug;469(2):191-201. doi: 10.1007/s00428-016-1950-9. Epub 2016 May 25.


Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) comprises a heterogeneous group of tumors with difficult to predict biological behavior. A subset of MBC, characterized by spindle-shaped tumor cells with a myoepithelial-like immunophenotype, was entered into a retrospective study (n = 42, median follow-up time 43 months). Molecular parameters (DNA sequences of mutation hot spots in AKT1, ALK, APC, BRAF, CDH1, CTNNB1, EGFR, ERBB2, FBXW7, FGFR2, FOXL2, GNAQ, GNAS, KIT, KRAS, MAP2K1, MET, MSH6, NRAS, PDGFRA, PIK3CA, PTEN, SF3B1, SMAD4, SRC, SRSF2, STK11, TP53, and U2AF1; copy numbers for EGFR, c-myc, FGFR, PLAG, c-met) were assessed. None of the patients had axillary lymph node involvement. In 13 cases, local recurrence developed after surgery (30.9 %). Distant metastasis occurred in seven patients (17 %; four after local recurrence). The most frequent genetic alteration was PIK3CA mutation (50 % of cases). None of the pathological parameters (size, grade, stage, Ki-67 labeling index) was significantly associated with disease-free survival (DFS) or overall survival (OS). PIK3CA mutation, especially the H1047R type, tended to adversely affect OS. Type of resection (mastectomy vs. breast-conserving therapy, width of margins) or adjuvant radiotherapy had no influence on DFS or OS, whereas in the group treated with radio-/chemotherapy, no local recurrence or metastasis and no death occurred. We conclude that the spindle cell type of MBC with myoepithelial features exhibits a higher frequency of PIK3CA mutation than other types of metaplastic or basal-like breast cancer and may benefit from combined radio-/chemotherapy. Classical pathological parameters are not helpful in identifying the high-risk tumors among this subgroup of MBC.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Metaplastic; Myoepithelial; PIK3CA; Prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy, Segmental / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • PIK3CA protein, human