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Localised breast cancers may have systemic influences on skin and hair


Hypothesis: Biomarkers, commonly expressed in breast cancer cells, may be correlated with their expression in breast skin of the same subjects.

Methods: The expression of biomarkers in specimens from 33 breast tumours and breast skin from the same subject and from 32 normal controls was studied using immunohistochemical techniques.

Results: (1) In normal women, there are significant correlations between the levels of expression of cyclin D1, bcl-2 and p53 in normal breast epithelial cells and breast skin epithelial cells. (2) These patterns of biomarker expression in normal women are similar in breast cancer and breast skin epithelial cells of women with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but are at significantly higher levels in both breast cancer cells and skin from the same subjects. (3) In normal women, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) is not expressed in either breast epithelial cells or skin epithelial cells. (4) HER-2 is expressed in the breast skin of some subjects with HER-2-positive breast cancer. (5) Positive oestrogen receptor alpha expression occurs significantly more frequently in the breast skin of women with IDC and DCIS than in normal controls.

Conclusion: The influence of localised breast cancer seems to be systemic, and leads to changes in skin and hair.

  • bcl-2, B cell lymphoma-2
  • DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ
  • ERα, oestrogen receptor alpha
  • HER, human epidermal growth factor receptor
  • IDC, invasive ductal carcinoma

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