Molecular Classification of Breast Carcinoma: From Traditional, Old-Fashioned Way to A New Age, and A New Way

J Breast Health. 2015 Apr 1;11(2):59-66. doi: 10.5152/tjbh.2015.1669. eCollection 2015 Apr.


Breast carcinoma comprises a group of diseases with specific clinical, histopathologic and molecular properties. Traditional classification use morphology to divide tumors into separate categories with differing behavior and prognosis. However, there are limitations of traditional classification systems, and new molecular methods are expected to improve classification systems. Molecular subtypes of breast carcinomas have been characterized in the last 11 years, and have been studied extensively. Much of the information accumulated in recent years, and molecular taxonomy seems to be still developing and undergoing change. The main question is whether new molecular techniques such as gene expression profiling will be accepted as gold standard in determining breast cancer subtypes, and whether molecular classification is useful in specific subtypes of breast cancer as it is in ductal carcinoma (nonspecific type). In addition, critical review of the literature reveals major problems such as poor definition, lack of reproducibility and lack of quality control in current molecular techniques and classifications. Therefore, current molecular approaches are not yet used in routine clinical practice and treatment guidance since they are immature and can even lead to incorrect assessment.

Keywords: Breast cancer; immunohistochemistry; microarray gene expression; the molecular classification.

Publication types

  • Review