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Multiple gene aberrations and breast cancer: lessons from super-responders



The presence of multiple molecular aberrations in patients with breast cancer may correlate with worse outcomes.

Case presentations

We performed in-depth molecular analysis of patients with estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative, hormone therapy-refractory breast cancer, who achieved partial or complete responses when treated with anastrozole and everolimus. Tumors were analyzed using a targeted next generation sequencing (NGS) assay in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments laboratory. Genomic libraries were captured for 3,230 exons in 182 cancer-related genes plus 37 introns from 14 genes often rearranged in cancer and sequenced to high coverage. Patients received anastrozole (1 g PO daily) and everolimus (5 or 10 mg PO daily). Thirty-two patients with breast cancer were treated on study and 5 (16 %) achieved a partial or complete response. Primary breast tissue was available for NGS testing in three of the responders (partial response with progression free survival of 11 and 14 months, respectively; complete response with progression free survival of 9+ months). The following molecular aberrations were observed: PTEN loss by immunohistochemistry, CCDN1 and FGFR1 amplifications, and PRKDC re-arrangement (NGS) (patient #1); PIK3CA and PIK3R1 mutations, and CCDN1, FGFR1, MYC amplifications (patient #2); TP53 mutation, CCNE1, IRS2 and MCL1 amplifications (patient #3). Some (but not all) of these aberrations converge on the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, perhaps accounting for response.


Patients with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer can achieve significant responses on a combination of anastrozole and everolimus, even in the presence of multiple molecular aberrations. Further study of next generation sequencing-profiled tumors for convergence and resistance pathways is warranted.

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