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BACKGROUND: Molecular profiling has identified at least four subtypes of invasive breast carcinoma, which exhibit distinct clinical behaviour. There is good evidence now that DCIS represents the non-obligate precursor to invasive breast cancer and therefore it should be possible to identify similar molecular subtypes at this stage. In addition to a limited five-marker system to identify molecular subtypes in invasive breast cancer, it is evident that other biological molecules may identify distinct tumour subsets, though this has not been formally evaluated in DCIS. METHODS: Tissue microarrays were constructed for 188 cases of DCIS. Immunohistochemistry was performed to examine the expression patterns of oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), Her2, EGFR, cytokeratin (CK) 5/6, CK14, CK17, CK18, β4-integrin, β6-integrin, p53, SMA, maspin, Bcl-2, topoisomerase IIα and P-cadherin. Hierarchical clustering analysis was undertaken to identify any natural groupings, and the findings were validated in an independent sample series. RESULTS: Each of the intrinsic molecular subtypes described for invasive breast cancer can be identified in DCIS, though there are differences in the relative frequency of subgroups, in particular, the triple negative and basal-like phenotype is very uncommon in DCIS. Hierarchical cluster analysis identified three main subtypes of DCIS determined largely by ER, PR, Her2 and Bcl-2, and this classification is related to conventional prognostic indicators. These subtypes were confirmed in an analysis on independent series of DCIS cases. CONCLUSION: This study indicates that DCIS may be classified in a similar manner to invasive breast cancer, and determining the relative frequency of different subtypes in DCIS and invasive disease may shed light on factors determining disease progression. It also demonstrates a role for Bcl-2 in classifying DCIS, which has recently been identified in invasive breast cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





120 - 127


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Biomarkers, Tumor, Breast Neoplasms, Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating, ErbB Receptors, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Keratins, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Neoplasm Staging, Prognosis, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2, Receptor, ErbB-2, Receptors, Estrogen, Receptors, Progesterone, Survival Rate, Tissue Array Analysis