Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive value of serum human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) for recurrence and metastasis in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).
Methods: A total of 200 patients with benign breast tumors and 300 patients with breast cancer treated in the Department of Breast Surgery, Women and Children's Hospital of Ningbo City (China) between December 2006 and December 2013 were enrolled. Another 500 age- and gender-matched healthy individuals served as controls. The serum level of HER2 was determined using suspension array technology. Patients with breast cancer were further divided into ER−/PR−/HER2− and ER−/PR−/HER2+ groups and followed up for 5 years to analyze the serum concentration of HER2.
Results: The serum HER2 concentration was significantly higher in patients with breast cancer than in healthy controls or patients with benign tumors (both p < 0.01). The serum HER2 concentration also was significantly higher in patients with TNBC than in healthy controls (p < 0.01). The serum concentration of HER2 was significantly higher in TNBC patients who experienced recurrence and metastasis than in TNBC patients who did not experience recurrence and metastasis (both p < 0.01). Notably, the serum HER2 concentration in TNBC patients who experienced recurrence and metastasis was increased to a level statistically similar to that in patients with HER2+ breast cancer (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: Patients with TNBC still have an increased serum HER2 concentration, and serum HER2 may be a valuable, novel biomarker for recurrence and metastasis in TNBC.