Purpose: Hormone receptor expression (presence-positive or absence-negative) may reflect different stages of one disease or different breast cancer types. Determining whether hormone receptor expression represents one or more breast cancer phenotypes would have important paradigmatic and practical implications. Methods: Breast cancer records were obtained from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The study included 19,541 non-Hispanic white women with node-negative breast cancer. Standard tumor cell characteristics and breast cancer-specific survival were analyzed by independent estrogen receptor (ER+ and ER-), independent progesterone receptor (PR+ and PR-), and joint ERPR expression (ER+PR+, ER+PR-, ER-PR+, and ER-PR-). Results: Age frequency density plots by hormone receptor expression showed two overlapping breast cancer populations with early-onset and/or late-onset etiologies. Independent ER+ and PR+ phenotype were associated with smaller tumor sizes, better grade, and better cancer-specific survival than ER- and PR- breast cancer types. Joint ERPR phenotype exhibited biologic gradients for tumor size, grade, and cancer-specific survival, which ranked from good to worse for ER+PR+ to ER+PR- to ER-PR+ to ER-PR-. Conclusion: Variations of standard tumor cell characteristics and breast cancer-specific survival by hormone receptor expression in white patients with node-negative breast cancer suggested two breast cancer phenotypes with overlapping etiologies and distinct clinical features.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research