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Epidermal growth factor receptor status in early stage breast cancer is associated with cellular proliferation but not cross-talk
  1. Justin Stebbing,
  2. Arun Thiyagarajan,
  3. Veena Surendrakumar,
  4. Rachel Payne,
  5. Jonathan Krell,
  6. Richard Szydlo,
  7. David Peston,
  8. Jacqueline S Lewis,
  9. R Charles Coombes,
  10. Sami Shousha
  1. Departments of Oncology, Surgery and Histopathology, Imperial College, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Charing Cross Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Justin Stebbing, Cancer Medicine and Medical Oncology, Imperial College, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Charing Cross Hospital, 1st Floor, E Wing, Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF, UK; j.stebbing{at}


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a therapeutic target in a number of settings in solid malignancies, but its role in breast cancer has remained unclear and controversial. In 810 primary breast cancers derived from patients suitable for cytotoxic chemotherapy, EGFR was prospectively measured and interactions with tumour and clinical correlates were tested to observe whether postulated cross-talk mechanisms are likely to modulate breast cancer metastasis and proliferation. A minority (79 tumours, 9.8%) were EGFR positive; in a multivariate analysis the likelihood of being EGFR positive was significantly increased for patients with grade 3 disease, compared with grade 1 (OR 15.6; 95% CI 2 to 122, p=0.0001), and for oestrogen receptor-negative status compared with positive (OR 24.1; 95% CI 12.7 to 46.00, p=0.0001). EGFR expression may play a role in breast cancer proliferation, but appears unlikely to modify tumour pathology via postulated mechanisms of oestrogen receptor/EGFR-mediated cross-talk.

  • Breast pathology
  • breast cancer
  • cross-talk
  • epidermal growth factor receptor
  • proliferation
  • receptor
  • signalling

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Riverside Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.