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Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) and oestrogen receptors (ER) were analysed in 221 patients with primary operable breast cancer by means of radioligand assays. After median follow-up of 24 months (range 3-60 months), there had been recurrences in 99 patients, of whom 72 (median age 56 years, range 32-77 years) received tamoxifen alone as first-line treatment for recurrence. 20 patients (28%) showed a response to this therapy and 52 (72%) did not. Of 32 ER-positive tumours, 12 (37.5%) showed an objective response to tamoxifen compared with only 2 of 40 (5%) ER-negative tumours (p less than 0.005). Of 35 EGFR-positive tumours, 3 (8.5%) achieved an objective response compared with 11 of 37 (30%) EGFR-negative tumours (p less than 0.05). Only 1 of 28 EGFR-positive, ER-negative tumours achieved an objective response. Including patients whose disease remained stable for more than 6 months with the responders, however, EGFR status was a better predictor of response to tamoxifen; 15 of 37 EGFR-negative patients and 5 of 35 EGFR-positive patients responded (p less than 0.01), compared with 13 of 32 ER-positive and 7 of 40 ER-negative patients (not significant). EGFR expression is a highly significant marker of poor prognosis in patients with breast cancer; it appears to be as good a predictor as ER for objective response and better for overall response to endocrine therapy on relapse.


Journal article



Publication Date





182 - 185


Adult, Aged, Aminoglutethimide, Breast Neoplasms, Drug Administration Schedule, ErbB Receptors, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Palliative Care, Prognosis, Receptors, Estrogen, Tamoxifen