Association of molecular subtypes with Ki-67 changes in untreated breast cancer patients undergoing pre-surgical trials

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Background: Ki-67 is increasingly being used as a response biomarker in window of opportunity, pre-surgical trials for breast cancer patients. Since Ki-67 is often higher at surgery than at baseline core biopsy in subjects allocated to placebo, we investigated which factors affected this change. Patients and methods: We retrieved data from 274 patients who received no active treatment in three consecutive pre-surgical trials from a single institution. We assessed the association between changes in Ki-67 from diagnostic biopsy to surgical specimen and the following factors: age, body mass index, tumor prognostic and predictive factors, including immunohistochemical molecular subtype, number and size of biopsy specimens, time from biopsy to surgery, circulating insulin-like growth factor-I, sex hormone-binding globulin and hsCRP. Results: A total of 269 patients with paired measures of Ki-67 at biopsy and surgery were analyzed. Overall, the mean (±SD) change was 2.2 ± 9.2% after a median interval of 41 days (inter-quartile range 33-48). Molecular subtype was the only factor associated with a significant change of Ki-67 (P = 0.004), with a mean absolute increase of 5.3% [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.3-8.3, P = 0.0005] in estrogen receptor-negative HER2-positive tumors (n = 36) and 5.4% (95% CI: 2.9-7.9, P <0.0001) in triple-negative tumors (n = 78). No significant change in luminal-A (n = 46), luminal-B (n = 85) and luminal-B HER2-positive (n = 24) tumors was observed. Conclusions: A significant increase in Ki-67 from baseline biopsy to end point surgery in untreated subjects was ascertained in HER2-positive and triple-negative tumors. This biological association suggests a real increase in cancer proliferation, possibly as a result of a biopsy-driven wound healing effect, and should be considered in the design and interpretation of pre-surgical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermdt528
Pages (from-to)618-623
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Ki 67 antigen
  • Molecular subtype breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant treatment breast cancer
  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Window of opportunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Hematology


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