Identification of different subtypes of breast cancer using tissue microarray

Vol. 52 No. 2, 2011


M. A. Munirah, M. A. Siti-Aishah, M. Z. Reena, N. A. Sharifah, M. Rohaizak, A. Norlia, M. K. M. Rafie, A. Asmiati, A. Hisham, I. Fuad, N. S. Shahrun, S. Das

Breast cancer may be classified into luminal A, luminal B, HER2+/ER-, basal-like and normal-like subtypes based on gene expression profiling or immunohistochemical (IHC) characteristics. The main aim of the present study was to classify breast cancer into molecular subtypes based on immunohistochemistry findings and correlate the subtypes with clinicopathological factors. Two hundred and seventeen primary breast carcinomas tumor tissues were immunostained for ER, PR, HER2, CK5/6, EGFR, CK8/18, p53 and Ki67 using tissue microarray technique. All subtypes were significantly associated with Malay ethnic background (p=0.035) compared to other racial origins. The most common subtypes of breast cancers were luminal A and was significantly associated with low histological grade (p<0.000) and p53 negativity (p=0.003) compared to HER2+/ER-, basal-like and normal-like subtypes with high histological grade (p<0.000) and p53 positivity (p=0.003). Luminal B subtype had the smallest mean tumor size (p=0.009) and also the highest mean number of lymph nodes positive (p=0.032) compared to other subtypes. All markers except EGFR and Ki67 were significantly associated with the subtypes. The most common histological type was infiltrating ductal carcinoma, NOS. Majority of basal-like subtype showed comedo-type necrosis (68.8%) and infiltrative margin (81.3%). Our studies suggest that IHC can be used to identify the different subtypes of breast cancer and all subtypes were significantly associated with race, mean tumor size, mean number of lymph node positive, histological grade and all immunohistochemical markers except EGFR and Ki67.

Corresponding author: M. A. Siti-Aishah, Professor, e-mail:

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