Clinical utility of gene-expression signatures in early stage breast cancer

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Abstract

Abstract |

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease, with different subtypes having a distinct biological, molecular, and clinical course. Assessments of standard clinical and pathological features have traditionally been used to determine the use of adjuvant systemic therapy in patients with early stage breast cancer; however, the ability to identify those who will benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy remains a challenge, leading to the overtreatment of some patients. Advances in molecular medicine have substantially improved the accuracy of gene-expression profiling of breast tumours, resulting in improvements in the ability to predict a patient's risk of breast cancer recurrence and likely response to endocrine therapy and/or chemotherapy. These genomic assays, several of which are commercially available, have aided physicians in tailoring treatment decisions for patients at the individual level. Herein, we describe the available data on the clinical validity of the most widely available assays in patients with early stage breast cancer, with a focus on the development, validation, and clinical application of these assays, in addition to the anticipated outcomes of ongoing prospective trials. We also review data from comparative studies of these assays and from cost-effectiveness analyses relating to their clinical use.

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