Experimental evidences from the last 2 decades supports the existence of a special type of neoplastic cell with stem-like features [cancer stem cell (CSC)] and their role in the pathophysiology and therapeutic resistance of breast cancer. However, their clinical value in human breast cancer has not been fully determined.Materials and Methods:
An immunohistochemistry panel of 10 putative CSC markers (CD34, C-KIT, CD10, SOX-2, OCT 3/4, p63, CD24, CD44, CD133, and ESA/EPCAM) was applied to 74 cases of breast cancer, followed in a Regional Cancer Center of Minas Gerais State, Brazil, from 2004 to 2006. Possible associations between CSC markers and classic variables of clinicopathologic relevance were investigated.Results:
The most frequently positive CSC markers were CD44, CD24, CD133, and ESA (the others were present in <15% of the cases). Two CSC profiles were defined: CD24−/CD44+ (CSC-1) and CD133+/ESA+ (CSC-2). CSC-1 was significantly associated to patients older than 40 years, tumors of <2.0 cm in diameter, early clinical stages (P<0.05), and increased death risk of 4 times (P=0.03; 95% confidence interval, 1.09-14.41). CSC-2 was related to increased relapse risk of 3.75 times (P=0.04; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-13.69).Conclusion:
The detection of the most frequently positive CSC markers by immunohistochemistry is of clinicopathologic and prognostic relevance.