Objective: The PTEN tumor suppressor gene has been demonstrated to be inactivated in a variety of human tumors. In breast cancer, the PTEN gene mutation is not commonly found whereas loss of heterozygosity affecting the PTEN locus is frequently found. The aim of this study was to analyze PTEN protein expression in breast cancer and to evaluate the prognostic significance of PTEN protein expression. Methods: Paraffin-embedded sections ofinvasive ductal carcinoma of the breast were immunohistochemically stained for PTEN protein expression in 236 breast cancers. The immunohistochemical expression of breast cancer cells was judged to be either normal or reduced compared with the PTEN protein expression of the normal mammary gland. Results: The expression of PTEN protein was found to have decreased in 67 (28%) of 236 breast cancers. The reduced expression correlated with lymph node metastasis (p = 0.0371), but not with tumor size, nuclear grade, MIB-1 counts or p53 protein expression. Univariate analysis indicated that patients with a reduced PTEN expression had a shorter disease-free survival (DFS) than those with a normal PTEN expression (p = 0.0174). Univariate analyses also determined tumor size, lymph node metastases, nuclear grade, MIB-1 counts, p53 protein as well as PTEN protein expression to be significant factors for DFS, while multivariate analysis determined lymph node metastases and the MIB-1 counts to be independent significant factors for DFS. Conclusions: The inactivation of PTEN, demonstrated by a reduced expression of PTEN protein by immunohistochemistry, was found in about one third of all breast cancers. The reduced expression of PTEN protein correlated with lymph node metastases and a worse prognosis in the patients with breast cancer.
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