Biomarkers predicting clinical benefit: fact or fiction?

Research paper by Valentina V Guarneri, Elena E Barbieri, Pierfranco P Conte

Indexed on: 02 Nov '11Published on: 02 Nov '11Published in: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs


Preoperative therapy is increasingly used in operable disease to improve the chance for breast-conservative surgery. Moreover, this strategy allows for a better definition of patient prognosis. Independently from stage at diagnosis and breast cancer subtype, the achievement of a pathological complete response (pCR) is a surrogate marker for long-term outcome. The likelihood of pCR depends on tumor biology, being poorly differentiated tumors with ductal histology, absence of hormone receptors, and high proliferation rate those with a higher chance of achieving a CR. However, pCR is a late efficacy parameter that can be evaluated at the end of the preoperative treatment; moreover, a pCR is achieved in a minority of patients and is not an appropriate efficacy measure for neoadjuvant endocrine therapy. The predictive role of tumor biomarkers such as p53, microtubule-associated tau protein, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase will be reviewed along with potential markers of early treatment effect.