CYP2D6 genotype is not associated with survival in breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen: results from a population-based study

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2017 Nov;166(1):277-287. doi: 10.1007/s10549-017-4400-8. Epub 2017 Jul 20.


Purpose: A number of studies have tested the hypothesis that breast cancer patients with low-activity CYP2D6 genotypes achieve inferior benefit from tamoxifen treatment, putatively due to lack of metabolic activation to endoxifen. Studies have provided conflicting data, and meta-analyses suggest a small but significant increase in cancer recurrence, necessitating additional studies to allow for accurate effect assessment. We conducted a retrospective pharmacogenomic analysis of a prospectively collected community-based cohort of patients with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer to test for associations between low-activity CYP2D6 genotype and disease outcome in 500 patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen monotherapy and 500 who did not receive any systemic adjuvant therapy.

Methods: Tumor-derived DNA was genotyped for common, functionally consequential CYP2D6 polymorphisms (*2, *3, *4, *6, *10, *41, and copy number variants) and assigned a CYP2D6 activity score (AS) ranging from none (0) to full (2). Patients with poor metabolizer (AS = 0) phenotype were compared to patients with AS > 0 and in secondary analyses AS was analyzed quantitatively. Clinical outcome of interest was recurrence free survival (RFS) and analyses using long-rank test were adjusted for relevant clinical covariates (nodal status, tumor size, etc.).

Results: CYP2D6 AS was not associated with RFS in tamoxifen treated patients in univariate analyses (p > 0.2). In adjusted analyses, increasing AS was associated with inferior RFS (Hazard ratio 1.43, 95% confidence interval 1.00-2.04, p = 0.05). In patients that did not receive tamoxifen treatment, increasing CYP2D6 AS, and AS > 0, were associated with superior RFS (each p = 0.0015).

Conclusions: This population-based study does not support the hypothesis that patients with diminished CYP2D6 activity achieve inferior tamoxifen benefit. These contradictory findings suggest that the association between CYP2D6 genotype and tamoxifen treatment efficacy is null or near null, and unlikely to be useful in clinical practice.

Keywords: CYP2D6; Pharmacogenetic; Predictive; Prognostic; Tamoxifen.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pharmacogenomic Variants
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Tamoxifen
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6