BACKGROUND: Sequential biopsy of breast cancer is used to assess biomarker effects and drug efficacy. The preoperative "window of opportunity" setting is advantageous to test biomarker changes in response to therapeutic agents in previously untreated primary cancers. This study tested the consistency over time of paired, sequential biomarker measurements on primary, operable breast cancer in the absence of drug therapy.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was performed for ER, PR and Ki67 on paired preoperative/operative tumor samples taken from untreated patients within 2 weeks of each other. Microarray analysis on mRNA extracted from formalin fixed paraffin embedded cores was performed using Affymetrix based arrays on paired core biopsies analysed using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) and Gene Set Analysis (GSA).
RESULTS: In 41 core/resection pairs, the recognised trend to lower ER, PR and Ki67 score on resected material was confirmed. Concordance for ER, PR and Ki67 without changing biomarker status (e.g. ER+ to ER-) was 90, 74 and 80 % respectively. However, in 23 paired core samples (diagnostic core v on table core), Ki67 using a cut off of 13.25 % was concordant in 22/23 (96 %) and differences in ER and PR immunohistochemistry by Allred or Quickscore between the pairs did not impact hormone receptor status. IPA and GSA demonstrated substantial gene expression changes between paired cores at the mRNA level, including reduced expression of ER pathway analysis on the second core, despite the absence of drug intervention.
CONCLUSIONS: Sequential core biopsies of primary breast cancer (but not core versus resection) was consistent and is appropriate to assess the effects of drug therapy in vivo on ER, PR and Ki67 using immunohistochemistry. Conversely, studies utilising mRNA expression may require non-treatment controls to distinguish therapeutic from biopsy differences.
- Breast cancer
- Expression arrays