EGF-R expression in ductal breast cancer: proliferation and prognostic implications

Anticancer Res. Jan-Feb 1997;17(1B):769-74.


We studied epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) expression in relation to steroid receptor status, flow cytometric DNA content and S-phase fraction (%S) in a selected case series of 129 ductal primary operable breast cancer to determine the possible role of EGF-R in prognosis assessment. EGF-R expression was positively related with proliferation activity, suggesting that EGF-R could be involved in the regulation of breast cancer cell growth. We found about 80% of highly proliferating DNA aneuploid tumors in the EGF-R positive category, while the EGF-R negative tumors showed a lower frequency of highly proliferating DNA aneuploid tumors (57%), confirming the important role of EGF-R in breast cancer aggressiveness and progression. No relationship between EGF-R expression and steroid receptor status was observed. To better understand how EGF-R and estrogen receptor (ER) operate together to stimulate breast cancer cell growth, we analyzed the %S in the two groups of ER negative (ER-) and ER positive (ER+) tumors, stratifying the patients on the basis of EGF-R tumor positivity. Here breast tumor proliferation activity seems mainly to be induced by the stimulus of EGF-R, the %S values of the EGF-R negative tumors in the ER- and ER+ groups being 6.1 and 6.9%, respectively. Instead, the median %S of EGF-R positive tumors was 10% in the ER- class and 14% in the ER+ group. The analysis of the percentages of 5-year patient disease free survival were 84% for patients with EGF-R negative tumors and 61% for patients with EGF-R positive lesions, respectively. The data reported here further show the crucial role of EGF-R in breast cancer cell growth and that the EGF-R overexpression is indicative of a poor prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Ploidies


  • ErbB Receptors