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More accurate criteria are required for the selection of patients with node-negative breast cancer for systemic adjuvant therapy. Expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) has been shown previously to be inversely related to oestrogen receptor (ER) in patients with operable breast cancer and to be associated with a poorer prognosis. Analysis of EGFr and ER was performed on tumour samples from 231 patients with operable breast cancer followed for up to 6 years after surgery. The median duration of follow-up in patients still alive at the time of analysis was 45 months. Thirty-five percent of patients (82) had tumours with greater than 10 fmol mg-1 I125-EGF binding (EGFr+) and 47% (109) and cystolic ER concentrations greater than 5 fmol mg-1 (ER+), with a marked inverse relationship between EGFr and ER (P less than 0.00001). In a univariate analysis EGFr was second only to axillary node status as a prognostic marker for all patients both in terms of relapse-free and overall survival (P less than 0.001, log rank). For patients with histologically negative axillary nodes EGFr was superior to ER in predicting relapse and survival (P less than 0.01 and P less than 0.005 respectively compared to P less than 0.1 and P less than 0.1, log rank). In a multivariate (Cox model) analysis only EGFr, out of EGFr, ER, size and grade, was predictive for either relapse-free or overall survival for patients with node-negative disease (P = 0.05 and P = 0.026 respectively). EGFr has been shown to be a marker of poor prognosis for patients with node-negative breast cancer. Since patients with EGFr+ tumours are unlikely to respond to hormone therapy it may be possible to select them for trials of systemic adjuvant chemotherapy.


Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





146 - 150


Breast Neoplasms, Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating, ErbB Receptors, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Middle Aged, Multivariate Analysis, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Time Factors