In order to investigate the prognostic significance of erbB-2 overexpression, immunohistochemical staining for the erbB-2 protein was performed on sections from paraffin blocks of 292 primary invasive breast cancers obtained from women enrolled in the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) protocol B-06. Positive reaction indicative of erbB-2 overexpression was observed on tumor cells in 62 (21%) samples. Women whose cancers were judged to have erbB-2 overexpression had a significantly worse overall survival (P = .0012) with twice the mortality rate of women without detectable erbB-2 expression. No statistically significant effect was evident for disease-free survival (P = .22). In multivariate analysis, detection of erbB-2 overexpression was the second most predictive independent variable for survival after nodal status. Overexpression of erbB-2 was more common among tumors of poor nuclear grade (29%) than those of good nuclear grade (12%). The association of erbB-2 overexpression with decreased survival was evident only among women with tumors of good nuclear grade. In this subgroup, erbB-2 overexpression was associated with an approximately fivefold increase in mortality rate (P = .00001). The combined predictive value of erbB-2 overexpression and nuclear grade was evident regardless of their lymph node status. These results provide evidence that detection of erbB-2 overexpression may be an independent prognostic variable for patient survival. Moreover, when combined with evaluation of nuclear grade, it may be possible to use immunostaining for erbB-2 protein to identify patients at increased risk from within a relatively low-risk group.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research