Impact of molecular subtype and race on HR+, HER2- breast cancer survival

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2021 Oct;189(3):845-852. doi: 10.1007/s10549-021-06342-0. Epub 2021 Jul 31.


Purpose: There is an urgent need to understand the biological factors contributing to the racial survival disparity among women with hormone receptor-positive (HR+), HER2- breast cancer. In this study, we examined the impact of PAM50 subtype on 10-year mortality rate in women with HR+, HER2- breast cancer by race.

Methods: Women with localized, HR+, HER2- breast cancer diagnosed between 2002 and 2012 from two population-based cohorts were evaluated. Archival tumors were obtained and classified by PAM50 into four molecular subtypes (i.e., luminal A, luminal B, HER2-enriched, and basal-like). The molecular subtypes within HR+, HER2- breast cancers and corresponding 10-year mortality rate were compared between Black and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) women using Cox proportional hazard ratios and survival analysis, adjusting for covariates.

Results: In this study, 318 women with localized, HR+, HER2- breast cancer were included-227 Black (71%) and 91 NHW (29%). Young Black women (age ≤ 50) had the highest proportion of HR+, non-luminal A tumors (47%), compared to young NHW (10%), older Black women (31%), and older NHW (30%). Overall, women with HR+, non-luminal A subtypes had a higher 10-year mortality rate compared to HR+, luminal A subtypes after adjustment for age, stage, and income (HR 4.21 for Blacks, 95% CI 1.74-10.18 and HR 3.44 for NHW, 95% CI 1.31-9.03). Among HR+, non-luminal A subtypes there was, however, no significant racial difference in 10-yr mortality observed (Black vs. NHW: HR 1.23, 95% CI 0.58-2.58).

Conclusion: Molecular subtype classification highlights racial disparities in PAM50 subtype distribution among women with HR+, HER2- breast cancer. Among women with HR+, HER2- breast cancer, racial survival disparities are ameliorated after adjusting for molecular subtype.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Molecular subtype; PAM50; Racial disparity.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics


  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Receptor, ErbB-2