Background: Basal-like breast carcinoma (BLBC) has attracted considerable attention over the past few years. It has been suggested that tumours expressing basal markers have a more aggressive clinical behaviour. However, a molecular basis for this disease remains unclear, and it lacks currently used therapeutic targets. Therefore developing a novel treatment strategy is crucial for improving the prognosis. The aim of this study was to characterise the immunohistochemical (IHC) expression of p16 in patients with BLBC compared with non-BLBC.
Materials and methods: Eighty-five cases of grade-3 invasive ductal carcinomas not otherwise specified (IDC-NOS) were analyzed. Immunohistochemical stains for oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2), cytokeratin (CK) 5/6, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and p16 were performed. BLBC was defined as ER-, PR-, Her2- and CK5/6 , and/or EGFR .
Results: Twenty cases were categorised as BLBC versus 65 as non-basal. High mitotic count and presence of necrosis were associated with basal-like phenotype. Distant metastasis developed in 40% of cases of BLBC with frequent spread to brain and lung. p16 had significantly higher expression in the basal subgroup (80% versus 50.8%, P = 0.04). Patients with BLBCs were found to have a lower diseasefree survival (DFS) rate (60% versus 70.8%, P = 0.03).
Conclusion: BLBC typically demonstrates a unique profile. p16 is frequently expressed in breast cancers with basal-like phenotype; this suggests that p16 may play a role in the poor prognosis of this tumour, and it may be used in the development of a targeted therapy that will result in improved patient prognostication and outcome.