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Invasive Breast Cancer: Recognition of Molecular SubtypesStrehl J.D.a · Wachter D.L.a · Fasching P.A.b · Beckmann M.W.b · Hartmann A.a
aInstitute for Pathology, bDepartments of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital Erlangen, Germany Corresponding Author
Prof. Dr. Arndt Hartmann, Pathologisches Institut, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Krankenhausstr. 8–10, 91054 Erlangen, Germany, Tel. +49 9131 85-22286, Fax -24745, Arndt.Hartmann@uk-erlangen.de
Molecular profiling has fundamentally changed our understanding of breast cancer in the last 10 years, by creating a new taxonomy of breast cancers based on the expression patterns of so-called ‘intrinsic genes’. Hierarchical clustering analyses performed on microarray-based gene expression profiles of breast cancers defined distinct breast cancer subgroups (luminal type A/B, HER2-enriched type, basal-like type). Since the initial landmark study by Perou et al., the concept of intrinsic breast cancer subtypes has been corroborated and expanded by several independent research groups. Further studies revealed individual properties of the intrinsic subgroups regarding the clinical course and the responsiveness to chemotherapy. The new gene expression profile-based taxonomy of breast cancer has been enthusiastically embraced by the scientific community and hailed as a major breakthrough on the way to individually tailored therapies. However, validation of the gene signatures in prospective studies is necessary before accepting these new technologies in daily clinical practice. In this review, the current data regarding the intrinsic subtypes and the associated clinical implications as well as the methodology of molecular profiling and possible use of immunohistochemistry in identifying intrinsic subtypes are discussed.
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