Telomere content correlates with stage and prognosis in breast cancer

Colleen A. Fordyce, Christopher M. Heaphy, Marco Bisoffi, Jessica L. Wyaco, Nancy E. Joste, Aroop Mangalik, Kathy B. Baumgartner, Richard N. Baumgartner, William C. Hunt, Jeffrey K. Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. To evaluate the hypothesis that telomere DNA content (TC) in breast tumor tissue correlates with TNM staging and prognosis. Experimental design. Slot blot assay was used to quantitate TC in 70 disease-free normal tissues from multiple organ sites, and two independent sets of breast tumors containing a total of 140 samples. Non-parametric Rank-Sums tests, logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the relationships between TC and tumor size, nodal involvement, TNM stage, 5-year survival and disease-free interval. Results. TC in 95% of normal tissues was 75-143% of that in the placental DNA standard, whereas only 50% of tumors had TC values in this range. TC was associated with tumor size (p=0.02), nodal involvement (p<0.0001), TNM stage (p=0.004), 5-year overall survival (p=0.0001) and 5-year disease-free survival (p=0.0004). A multivariable Cox model was developed using age at diagnosis, TNM stage and TC as independent predictors of breast cancer-free survival. Relative to the high TC group (>123% of standard), low TC (<101% of standard) conferred an adjusted relative hazard of 4.43 (95% CI 1.4-13.6, p=0.009). Receiver operating characteristic curves using thresholds defined by the TC distribution in normal tissues predicted 5-year breast cancer-free survival with 50% sensitivity and 95% specificity, and predicted death due to breast cancer with 75% sensitivity and 70% specificity. Conclusions. TC in breast cancer tissue is an independent predictor of clinical outcome and survival interval, and may discriminate by stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Genomic instability
  • Metastasis
  • Prognosis
  • TNM staging
  • Telomere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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