The prognostic impact of age in different molecular subtypes of breast cancer

Cornelia Liedtke, Achim Rody, Oleg Gluz, Kristin Baumann, Daniel Beyer, Eva-Beatrice Kohls, Kerstin Lausen, Lars Hanker, Uwe Holtrich, Sven Becker, Thomas Karn


Breast cancer is a heterogeneous entity composed of distinct molecular subgroups with different molecular and clinical features. We analyzed the association between molecular breast cancer subgroups, age at diagnosis, and prognosis in a compilation of publicly available gene expression datasets. Affymetrix gene expression data (U133A or U133Plus2.0 arrays) of 4467 breast cancers from 40 datasets were compiled and homogenized. Breast cancer subgroups were defined based on expression of ESR1, PR, HER2, and Ki67. Event-free survival was calculated as recurrence-free survival or distant metastasis-free survival if recurrence-free survival was not available. Young age at diagnosis is associated with higher frequency of triple negative and HER2 subtypes and lower frequency of luminal A breast cancers. The 5-year event-free survival rates of patients aged less than 40, between 40 and 50, and >50 years were 54.3 ± 3.5, 68.5 ± 1.9, and 70.4 ± 1.3 %, respectively. When controlling for breast cancer subtype, we found that age <40 years remained significantly associated with poor prognosis in triple negative breast cancer. The effect was modest in luminal tumors and not found in HER2 subtype. Both subtypes and age retained their significances in multivariate analysis. Association of age at diagnosis with molecular breast cancer subtype contributes to its important role as prognostic factor among patients with breast cancer. Still, within the group of triple negative breast cancer, young age <40 years has a significant prognostic value which was retained in multivariate analysis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)667-73
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 08.2015


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