We examined the prognostic value of c-erbB-2, p53, bcl-2 and bax overexpression in breast cancer. Immunostaining for c-erbB-2, p53, bcl-2 and bax gene expression was performed on 121 paraffin-embedded specimens of Stage I, II and III breast cancer patients diagnosed and treated in Hippokration Hospital, Athens Medical School, between 1986 and 1992. The primary tumor from 27 (24.1%), 69 (59%), 18 (15%) and 63 (53.4%) patients stained positively for c-erbB-2, p53, bcl-2 and bax gene expression, respectively. Significant correlations were found between bax overexpression and age (P=0.04), tumor size (P=0.02) and disease stage (P=0.001), while no other significant associations were found between other molecular markers and clinical or histological parameters. None of the individual molecular markers examined proved to be independent prognostic factor for patients with breast carcinoma. C-erbB-2, p53, bcl-2 and bax genes have limited prognostic value. An approach that combines several molecular markers with established clinicopathological criteria may help physicians make more accurate predictions of prognosis in patients with breast cancer.
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