Intrinsic molecular subtypes of breast cancer

Published on July 6, 2013

From the National Cancer Institute

Breast cancer cells

Classification and prognosis of invasive breast cancer: from morphology to molecular taxonomy

This article is quite easy to follow. It explains that newer techniques use gene expression profiling to identify certain molecular subtypes of breast cancer. This identification will help clinicians to better assess prognosis, determine treatment options and evaluate response to therapy.

Gene expression profiling is a way of measuring the activity of thousands of genes at once.

Traditionally, the article explains that in order to decide which therapy would be best for the patient, clinicians look at the patient and categorize them according to:

1. Patient age
2. Axilla lymph node status
3. Histological features
4. Hormone receptor status
5. HER2 status

HER2 is the name of a protein that can be found on some types of cancer cells. If this finding is positive, then the tumor may grow more quickly.

The pathology report will show whether or not the cancer cells have receptor cells for estrogen and progesterone:

1. Hormone receptor-positive
2. Hormone receptor-negative

In the table shown in the same article above, three main subtypes are described:
1. Luminal
2. Her2
3. Basal

The next table in the same article shows:
Immunophenotyping to approximate molecular subtype using six biomarkersa

– Immunophenotyping is a technique used to study the protein expressed by cells –

There are five tumor subtypes of breast cancer listed in this article:

Phenotypic and molecular characterization of the claudin-low intrinsic subtype of breast cancer

1.Luminal A
2. Luminal B
3. HER2-enriched, basal-like and claudin-low
4. Basal-like
5. Claudin-low

– This article lists the above 5, and also says normal breast is a category, and thus names 6 subtypes.

Molecular biology in breast cancer: intrinsic subtypes and signaling pathways.

Wikipedia lists 7 types:


Useful links:
1. National Cancer Institute – Breast cancer treatment
2. Cancer Research UK – Treatment for Breast Cancer

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