A new study has reported that breast cancer patients with tumors having positive epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression have a less favorable prognosis than those with EGFR-negative tumors. The study included 2,567 women. Women with EGFR-positive tumors are more likely to be young and/or African American. EGFR-positive tumors tend to be larger and have more aggressive characteristics (including higher proliferation and genomic instability) that are less amenable to treatment with adjuvant therapy.
EGFR-positive tumors are also more likely to be HER2 overexpressing (26% versus 16%), and less likely to be estrogen receptor positive (ER+) (60% versus 88%) or progesterone receptor positive (PR+) (26% versus 65%).
In the study, EGFR expression was found to be independently associated with reduced disease-free survival and reduced overall survival. The authors conclude that blocking EGFR may improve outcome in some breast cancer patients.
Strategy for those with EGFR-positive breast cancer
EGFR overexpression has been observed in many human cancers, among them brain, head and neck, thyroid, lung, colon, kidney, prostate, ovarian, and bladder cancer, as well as breast cancer. EGFR overexpression has been found to correlate with poor clinical prognosis.
Activation of the receptor with epidermal growth factor promotes proliferation and migration of tumor cells, thus facilitating the spread of cancer.
Many breast cancer patients will never become aware of their epidermal growth factor receptor expression status. However, for those whose tumors have been tested and found to be EGFR positive, the following foods have been found to block EGFR, as well as having been shown to reduce risk of breast cancer in general:
- Bok choy
- Carrots, purple
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Grapes, red
- Green tea
Selected breast cancer studies
Fucoidan from Laminaria cichorioides inhibits AP-1 transactivation and cell transformation in the mouse epidermal JB6 cells
Lee NY, Ermakova SP, Choi H, Kusaykin MI, Shevchenko NM, Zvyagintseva TN, et al. Fucoidan from Laminaria cichorioides inhibits AP-1 transactivation and cell transformation in the mouse epidermal JB6 cells. Molecular Carcinogenesis. Wiley; 2008; 47:629-637 10.1002/mc.20428
Sulforaphane induces cell type–specific apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines
Pledgie-Tracy A, Sobolewski MD, Davidson NE. Sulforaphane induces cell type–specific apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); 2007; 6:1013-1021 10.1158/1535-7163.mct-06-0494
ER+ PR- breast cancer defines a unique subtype of breast cancer that is driven by growth factor signaling and may be more likely to respond to EGFR targeted therapies
Finn RS, Dering J, Ginther C, Press M, Forbes J, Mackey J, et al. ER+ PR- breast cancer defines a unique subtype of breast cancer that is driven by growth factor signaling and may be more likely to respond to EGFR targeted therapies. Journal of Clinical Oncology. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); 2006; 24:514-514 10.1200/jco.2006.24.18_suppl.514
Indole-3-carbinol-induced death in cancer cells involves EGFR downregulation and is exacerbated in a 3D environment
Moiseeva EP, Fox LH, Howells LM, Temple LAF, Manson MM. Indole-3-carbinol-induced death in cancer cells involves EGFR downregulation and is exacerbated in a 3D environment. Apoptosis. Springer Science and Business Media LLC; 2006; 11:799-812 10.1007/s10495-006-5877-5