Background: Molecular testing on surgical specimens predicts disease recurrence and benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in hormone receptor-positive (HR+), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) early-stage breast cancer (EBC). Testing on core biopsies has become common practice despite limited evidence of concordance between core/surgical samples. In this study, we compared the gene expression of the 21 genes and the recurrence score (RS) between paired core/surgical specimens.
Methods: Eighty patients with HR+/HER2- EBC were evaluated from two publicly available gene expression datasets (GSE73235, GSE76728) with paired core/surgical specimens without neoadjuvant systemic therapy. The expression of the 21 genes was compared in paired samples. A microarray-based RS was calculated and a value ≥ 26 was defined as high-RS. The concordance rate and kappa statistic were used to evaluate the agreement between the RS of paired samples.
Results: Overall, there was no significant difference and a high correlation in the gene expression levels of the 21 genes between paired samples. However, CD68 and RPLP0 in GSE73235, AURKA, BAG1, and TFRC in GSE76728, and MYLBL2 and ACTB in both datasets exhibited weak to moderate correlation (r < 0.5). There was a high correlation of the microarray-based RS between paired samples in GSE76728 (r = 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.81-0.96) and GSE73235 (r = 0.82, 95% CI 0.71-0.89). There were no changes in RS category in GSE76728, whereas 82% of patients remained in the same RS category in GSE73235 (κ = 0.64).
Conclusions: Gene expression levels of the 21-gene RS showed a high correlation between paired specimens. Potential sampling and biological variability on a set of genes need to be considered to better estimate the RS from core needle biopsy.
© 2021. Society of Surgical Oncology.