Open Access Research article

Molecular alterations in key-regulator genes among patients with T4 breast carcinoma

Bruno Massidda1, MariaCristina Sini2, Mario Budroni3, Francesco Atzori1, MariaCristina Deidda1, Valeria Pusceddu1, MariaTeresa Perra4, Paola Sirigu4, Antonio Cossu5, Grazia Palomba2, MariaTeresa Ionta1 and Giuseppe Palmieri2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Oncology, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy

2 Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry-National Research Council (CNR), Sassari, Italy

3 Epidemiology Unit, Azienda Sanitaria Locale 1, Sassari, Italy

4 Department of Cytomorphology, Cagliari University, Cagliari, Italy

5 Institute of Pathology, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria, Sassari, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:458  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-458

Published: 24 August 2010



Prognostic factors in patients who are diagnosed with T4 breast carcinomas are widely awaited. We here evaluated the clinical role of some molecular alterations involved in tumorigenesis in a well-characterized cohort of T4 breast cancer patients with a long follow-up period.


A consecutive series of 53 patients with T4 breast carcinoma was enrolled between 1992 and 2001 in Sardinia, and observed up for a median of 125 months. Archival paraffin-embedded tissue sections were used for immunohistochemistry (IHC) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses, in order to assess alterations in expression levels of survivin, p53, and pERK1-2 proteins as well as in amplification of CyclinD1 and h-prune genes. The Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression methods were used for survival assessment and statistical analysis.


Overall, patients carrying increased expression of pERK1-2 (p = 0.027) and survivin (p = 0.008) proteins as well as amplification of h-prune gene (p = 0.045) presented a statistically-significant poorer overall survival in comparison with cases found negative for such alterations. After multivariate analysis, the pathological response to primary chemotherapy and the survivin overexpression in primary carcinoma represented the main parameters with a role as independent prognostic factors in our series.


Although retrospective, our study identified some molecular parameters with a significant impact on prediction of the response to therapy or prognosis among T4 breast cancer patients. Further large prospective studies are needed in order to validate the use of such markers for the management of these patients.