Reviewers: Li Liu, MD
Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology, Volume 18, No. 2 (January): 267-274, 2000
The HER-2/neu oncogene (also called c-erbB-2) codes a surface membrane protein that interacts with the epithelial growth factor receptor. Several studies have reported an association between HER-2/neu amplification and both earlier relapse and decreased survival in patients with breast cancers. The clinical significance of HER-2/neu expression in benign breast lesions (BBL) remains unclear. This study assessed the amplification of the HER-2/neu gene in BBL and risk of subsequent breast cancer.
The investigators measured HER-2/neu gene expression in benign and malignant breast tissues from 137 women with BBL who subsequently developed breast cancer, and in benign tissue from 156 controls with BBL who did not develop cancer.
Genetic alterations, including HER-2/neu gene amplification, may occur as relatively early events in the development of breast cancer. This finding may help physicians to identify the subgroup of women with benign breast lesions who may be at higher risk of developing breast cancers.