Prediction of pathologic complete response to sequential paclitaxel and 5-fluorouracil/epirubicin/cyclophosphamide therapy using a 70-gene classifier for breast cancers




Sequential administration of paclitaxel plus combined fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide (P-FEC) is 1 of the most common neoadjuvant chemotherapies for patients with primary breast cancer and produces pathologic complete response (pCR) rates of 20% to 30%. However, a predictor of pCR to this chemotherapy has yet to be developed. The authors developed such a predictor by using a proprietary DNA microarray for gene expression analysis of breast tumor tissues.


Tumor samples were obtained from 84 patients with breast cancer by core-needle biopsy before the patients received P-FEC, and the gene expression profile was analyzed in those samples to construct a classifier for predicting pCR to P-FEC. In addition, the authors analyzed the gene expression profile of tumor tissues that were obtained at surgery from 105 patients with lymph node-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer who received adjuvant hormone therapy alone to determine the prognostic significance of the classifier.


The 70-gene classifier for predicting pCR to P-FEC was constructed by using the training set (n = 50) and subsequently was validated successfully in the validation set (n = 34), revealing high sensitivity (88%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 47%-100%) and high negative predictive value (93%; 95% CI, 68%-100%). Specificity and positive predictive value were 54% (95% CI, 33%-73%) and 37% (95% CI, 16%-62%), respectively. Among the various parameters (estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, and Ki-67 status, etc), the 70-gene classifier had the strongest association with pCR (P = .015). In an additional study, genetically assumed complete responders were associated significantly (P = .047) with a poor prognosis.


The 70-gene classifier that was constructed for predicting pCR to P-FEC for breast tumors was successful, with high sensitivity and high negative predictive value. The classifier also appeared to be useful for predicting the prognosis of patients with lymph node-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer who receive adjuvant hormone therapy alone. Cancer 2011. © 2011 American Cancer Society.