Controversy continues regarding the prognostic utility of detection of p53 gene abnormalities in node-negative breast cancer. To resolve this, we used a rapid and nonisotopic PCR-single strand conformation polymorphism method to screen for mutations in exons 4-8 of the p53 gene in primary tumors from 422 node-negative breast cancer patients. The prevalence of p53 mutation in the exons tested was 18%. p53 mutation was significantly associated with several markers of poor prognosis including larger tumor size, high tumor grade, low hormone receptor content, increased expression of MIB-1 (Ki-67), amplification of the HER-2/neu oncogene, and accumulation of the p53 protein. After a median duration follow-up period of 74 months, the parameters of tumor diameter > or =20 mm, HER-2/neu oncogene amplification, and p53 mutation were found to be associated with a statistically significant shortened duration of disease-free and overall survival, but not the parameters of tumor grade, hormone receptor levels, or p53 expression. The poor prognosis associated with p53 mutation was observed primarily in patients with a tumor diameter of > or =20 mm. In multivariate analysis, p53 mutation was a risk factor for increased risk of recurrence and death from breast cancer independent of tumor size, hormone receptor levels, HER-2/neu amplification, and MIB-1 expression. We conclude that a relatively simple and rapid single strand conformation polymorphism method of determining p53 mutation status in node-negative breast cancers can provide independent prognostic information.

This content is only available via PDF.