Publications Search

Search for publications by author
Search for publications by abstract keyword(s)

Phenotypic and molecular dissection of Metaplastic Breast Cancer and the prognostic implications


Metaplastic Breast Carcinoma (MBC) is relatively rare but accounts for a significant proportion of global breast cancer mortality. This group is extremely heterogeneous and by definition exhibits metaplastic change to squamous and/or mesenchymal elements, including spindle, squamous, chondroid, osseous and rhabdomyoid features. Clinically, patients are more likely to present with large primary tumours (higher stage), distant metastases and overall, have shorter 5-year survival compared to Invasive Carcinomas of no special type. The current World Health Organisation (WHO) diagnostic classification for this cancer type is based purely on morphology - the biological basis and clinical relevance of its seven sub-categories are currently unclear. By establishing the Asia-Pacific MBC (AP-MBC) consortium, we amassed a large series of MBC (n=347) and analysed the mutation profile of a subset, expression of 14 breast cancer biomarkers and clinicopathologic correlates, contextualizing our findings within the WHO guidelines. The most significant indicators of poor prognosis were: large tumour size (T3; p=0.004), loss of cytokeratin expression (lack of staining with pan-Cytokeratin AE1/3 antibody; p=0.007), EGFR overexpression (p=0.01) and for 'mixed' MBC, the presence of more than three distinct morphological entities (p=0.007). Conversely, fewer morphological components and EGFR negativity were favourable indicators. Exome sequencing of 30 cases confirmed enrichment of TP53 and PTEN mutations, and intriguingly, concurrent mutations of TP53, PTEN and PIK3CA. Mutations in neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) were also over-represented (16.7% MBC compared to ~5% of breast cancers overall; enrichment p=0.028; mutation significance p=0.006 (OncodriveFM)), consistent with published case reports implicating germline NF1 mutations in MBC risk. Taken together, we propose a practically minor but clinically significant modification to the guidelines: all WHO_1 mixed type tumours should have the number of morphologies present recorded, as a mechanism for refining prognosis, and that EGFR and pan-cytokeratin expression are important prognostic markers.

Type Journal
ISBN 0022-3417
Authors McCart Reed, A. E.; Kalaw, E.; Nones, K.; Bettington, M.; Lim, M.; Bennett, J.; Johnstone, K.; Kutasovic, J. R.; Saunus, J. M.; Kazakoff, S.; Xu, Q.; Wood, S.; Holmes, O.; Leonard, C.; Reid, L. E.; Black, D.; Niland, C.; Ferguson, K.; Gresshoff, I.; Raghavendra, A.; Harvey, K.; Cooper, C.; Liu, C.; Kalinowski, L.; Reid, A. S.; Davidson, M.; Pearson, J. V.; Pathmanathan, N.; Tse, G.; Papadimos, D.; Pathmanathan, R.; Harris, G.; Yamaguchi, R.; Tan, P. H.; Fox, S.; O'Toole, S. A.; Simpson, P. T.; Waddell, N.; Lakhani, S. R.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Sandra O'Toole
Published Date 2019-02-01
Published Volume 247
Published Issue 2
Published Pages 214-227
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1002/path.5184
URL link to publisher's version