Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive type of breast cancer with highly variable potential of becoming invasive and affecting mortality. Currently, many patients with DCIS are overtreated due to the lack of specific biomarkers that distinguish low risk lesions from those with a higher risk of progression. In this study, we analyzed 57 pure DCIS and 313 invasive breast cancers (IBC) from different patients. Three levels of genomic data were obtained; gene expression, DNA methylation, and DNA copy number. We performed subtype stratified analyses and identified key differences between DCIS and IBC that suggest subtype specific progression. Prominent differences were found in tumors of the basal-like subtype: Basal-like DCIS were less proliferative and showed a higher degree of differentiation than basal-like IBC. Also, core basal tumors (characterized by high correlation to the basal-like centroid) were not identified amongst DCIS as opposed to IBC. At the copy number level, basal-like DCIS exhibited fewer copy number aberrations compared with basal-like IBC. An intriguing finding through analysis of the methylome was hypermethylation of multiple protocadherin genes in basal-like IBC compared with basal-like DCIS and normal tissue, possibly caused by long range epigenetic silencing. This points to silencing of cell adhesion-related genes specifically in IBC of the basal-like subtype. Our work confirms that subtype stratification is essential when studying progression from DCIS to IBC, and we provide evidence that basal-like DCIS show less aggressive characteristics and question the assumption that basal-like DCIS is a direct precursor of basal-like invasive breast cancer.
- Cancer genomics
- Diagnostic markers