Background ‘Triple-negative’ is traditionally used to define a specific subtype of breast cancer with negative oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor-type 2 (HER2) expressions. ER/PR and HER2 testing is also widely used in the informative classification of ovarian cancer.
Aim To investigate whether a ‘triple-negative’ subtype also exists in ovarian cancer.
Methods ER, PR and HER2 expressions in 116 Chinese women with primary epithelial ovarian cancer were reviewed. Triple-negative epithelial ovarian cancer (TNEOC) was defined based on negative ER, PR and HER2 expression. The clinicopathological characteristics and Ki-67, P53 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression in the TNEOC and non-TNEOC group were compared.
Results 15.5% of cases (18/116) were identified as TNEOC among 116 ovarian carcinomas. Histological grade 3 was found in a higher percentage of the TNEOC than of the non-TNEOC group (94.4% vs 62.2%). TNEOC also correlated with a high level of Ki-67 and p53 expression. EGFR overexpression and other clinicopathological characteristics were not significantly associated with TNEOC subtype. TNEOC was associated with a shorter progression free survival and overall survival in univariate and multivariate analyses.
Conclusions A novel subtype of ovarian carcinoma, which is negative for ER, PR and HER2 expression, has been identified; this specific ovarian subtype tends to have aggressive characteristics and a poor prognosis, which is similar to triple-negative breast cancer in most respects. TNEOC should be considered in future investigations of informative classification of ovarian cancer.
- Ovarian cancer
- triple negative
- oestrogen receptor (ER)
- progesterone receptor (PR)
- human epidermal growth factor receptor-type 2 (HER2)
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Competing interests None to declare.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethical committee of Shandong Cancer Hospital and Institute.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.