Sequencing-based breast cancer diagnostics as an alternative to routine biomarkers

Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 30;6:38037. doi: 10.1038/srep38037.


Sequencing-based breast cancer diagnostics have the potential to replace routine biomarkers and provide molecular characterization that enable personalized precision medicine. Here we investigate the concordance between sequencing-based and routine diagnostic biomarkers and to what extent tumor sequencing contributes clinically actionable information. We applied DNA- and RNA-sequencing to characterize tumors from 307 breast cancer patients with replication in up to 739 patients. We developed models to predict status of routine biomarkers (ER, HER2,Ki-67, histological grade) from sequencing data. Non-routine biomarkers, including mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and ERBB2(HER2), and additional clinically actionable somatic alterations were also investigated. Concordance with routine diagnostic biomarkers was high for ER status (AUC = 0.95;AUC(replication) = 0.97) and HER2 status (AUC = 0.97;AUC(replication) = 0.92). The transcriptomic grade model enabled classification of histological grade 1 and histological grade 3 tumors with high accuracy (AUC = 0.98;AUC(replication) = 0.94). Clinically actionable mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and ERBB2(HER2) were detected in 5.5% of patients, while 53% had genomic alterations matching ongoing or concluded breast cancer studies. Sequencing-based molecular profiling can be applied as an alternative to histopathology to determine ER and HER2 status, in addition to providing improved tumor grading and clinically actionable mutations and molecular subtypes. Our results suggest that sequencing-based breast cancer diagnostics in a near future can replace routine biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins