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MYC amplification in breast cancer: a chromogenic in situ hybridisation study
  1. S Maria Rodriguez-Pinilla1,
  2. Robin L Jones1,
  3. Maryou B K Lambros1,
  4. Edurne Arriola1,
  5. Kay Savage1,
  6. Michelle James1,
  7. Sarah E Pinder2,
  8. Jorge S Reis-Filho1
  1. 1The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre, Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Histopathology, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Jorge S Reis-Filho
    The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre, Institute of Cancer Research, Fulham Road, London SW3 6JB, UK; Jorge.Reis-Filho{at}


Aims: To analyse the correlation between MYC amplification and various clinicopathological features and outcome in a cohort of 245 patients with invasive breast carcinoma treated with surgery followed by anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Given the high prevalence of MYC amplification in tumours of BRCA1 mutation carriers and the similarities between these and sporadic “basal-like” carcinomas, the prevalence of MYC amplification in “basal-like” breast carcinomas was investigated.

Methods:MYC gene copy number was assessed on tissue microarrays containing duplicate cores of 245 invasive breast carcinomas by means of chromogenic in situ hybridisation using SpotLight C-MYC amplification probe and chromosome 8 centromeric probe (CEP8). Signals were evaluated at 400× magnification; 30 morphologically unequivocal neoplastic cells in each core were counted for the presence of the gene and CEP8 probes.

Results: Amplification was defined as a MYC:CEP8 ratio >2. Signals for both MYC and CEP8 were assessable in 196/245 (80%) tumours. MYC amplification was found in 19/196 cases (9.7%) and was not associated with tumour size, histological grade, positivity for oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, HER2, epidermal growth factor, cytokeratins 14, 5/6 and 17, MIB1 or p53. Only 4% of basal-like carcinomas showed MYC amplification, compared to 8.75% and 10.7% of luminal and HER2 tumours respectively. On univariate analysis, MYC amplification displayed a significant association with shorter metastasis-free and overall survival and proved to be an independent prognostic factor on multivariate survival analysis.

Conclusion:MYC amplification is not associated with “basal-like” phenotype and proved to be an independent prognostic factor for breast cancer patients treated with anthracycline-based chemotherapy.

  • CEP8, chromosome 8 centromeric probe
  • CISH, chromogenic in situ hybridisation
  • Ck, cytokeratin
  • EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor
  • ER, oestrogen receptor
  • FISH, fluorescent in situ hybridisation
  • PR, progesterone receptor
  • oncogene
  • MYC
  • CISH
  • prognosis
  • basal-like breast cancer

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  • Published Online First 8 December 2006

  • Funding: This study was supported by Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

  • Competing interests: None declared.