Purpose: The DESTINY-Breast04 clinical trial is currently investigating whether trastuzumab deruxtecan (T-DXd) is effective in HER2-low as well as HER2-positive breast cancer. This highlights the interest in treatment strategies for patients with HER2-low breast cancer. The current study was therefore designed to determine the frequency of HER2-low among all breast cancers, and to compare the prognosis of HER2-low patients with that of HER2-negative patients.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the biological data from 4,918 of 4,977 primary breast cancer patients who attended our institute. We quantified the overall frequency of breast cancer patients with a new HER2-low subtype that was defined by an immunohistochemistry score of IHC1 + or IHC2 + /ISH-. We then compared the clinical characteristics and prognosis of HER2-low patients with that of patients who did not have HER2 amplification (HER2-0).
Results: Low HER2 expression was found in 3169 (64.4%) patients; 2860 (58.1%) were HR-positive and 309 (6.3%) were HR-negative. Among HER2-0 patients, 681 (13.9%) were HR-positive and 157 (3.2%) were HR-negative. The HER2-0 group tended to have more poor prognostic factors than the HER2-low group, irrespective of HR status. There were no statistically significant differences between the prognosis of HER2-low and HER2-0 patients, regardless of HR status. However, patients in the HER2-low group tended to have better prognosis than those in the HER2-0 group.
Conclusion: HER2-low patients did not have a significantly different prognosis than HER2-0 patients, regardless of HR status. However, we should consider tailoring therapies for patients with HRE2-low early breast cancer according to their HR status.
Keywords: HER2-0; HER2-low; Low HER2 expression breast cancer; Prognosis; Trastuzumab deruxtecan.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to The Japanese Breast Cancer Society.