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Open Access Basal Breast Cancer: A Complex and Deadly Molecular Subtype

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During the last decade, gene expression profiling of breast cancer has revealed the existence of five molecular subtypes and allowed the establishment of a new classification. The basal subtype, which represents 15-25% of cases, is characterized by an expression profile similar to that of myoepithelial normal mammary cells. Basal tumors are frequently assimilated to triple-negative (TN) breast cancers. They display epidemiological and clinico-pathological features distinct from other subtypes. Their pattern of relapse is characterized by frequent and early relapses and visceral locations. Despite a relative sensitivity to chemotherapy, the prognosis is poor. Recent characterization of their molecular features, such as the dysfunction of the BRCA1 pathway or the frequent expression of EGFR, provides opportunities for optimizing the systemic treatment. Several clinical trials dedicated to basal or TN tumors are testing cytotoxic agents and/or molecularly targeted therapies. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge of this aggressive and hard-to-treat subtype of breast cancer.





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Keywords: Basal breast cancer; DNA microarrays; P-cadherin; basal tumors; caveolin 1; chemotherapy; claudin genes; cytokeratins; gene expression; genomics; heterogeneous disease; phenotype; prognosis; taxonomy; triple-negative

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • Current Molecular Medicine is an interdisciplinary journal focused on providing the readership with current and comprehensive reviews on fundamental molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, the development of molecular-diagnosis and/or novel approaches to rational treatment. The reviews should be of significant interest to basic researchers and clinical investigators in molecular medicine. Periodically the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a basic research area that shows promise to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanism(s) of a disease or has potential for clinical applications.
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