Background: Progesterone receptor (PgR) negative breast cancer (BC) is an aggressive subtype with poor prognosis and reduced response to endocrine treatments. Several studies have suggested that androgen receptor (AR) expression is associated with a favorable tumor biology, longer recurrence free survival (RFS), and overall survival. In the literature no data exist regarding the role of AR expression in early stage estrogen receptor (ER)+/PgR- BCs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic role of AR expression in this setting.
Patients and methods: This is a monocentric retrospective study in which 208 patients who underwent surgical intervention for ER+/PgR-/Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2 (HER2)- BC were included. The primary objective was to analyze the relationship between AR expression and RFS.
Results: At a median follow-up of 77 months, 75 patients (36%) had a disease relapse (all sites included). AR expression was significantly higher in patients who did not relapse compared with those who relapsed with an impact on RFS (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.99, p = 0.025). Patients with AR expression ⩾80% had a lower risk of relapse compared with those with AR <80% (HR = 0.53, p = 0.008). In addition, breast tumors with higher AR expression had good biological features (low ki67 and nuclear grade) compared with BCs with lower AR expression, at least partly explaining the different outcome.
Conclusions: The results of this study support the potential prognostic role of AR in patients with ER+/PgR- BCs and may contribute to the identification of subgroups of high-risk patients.