The prognostic significance of sialyl-Tn antigen in women treated with adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer

Anita Yeomans Kinney, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background and purpose. Sialyl-Tn(STn) represents an aberrantly glycosylated mucin epitope which is expressed in breast cancer and other adenocarcinomas and is an important target for the development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches. It is a marker of adverse prognosis in colon and ovarian cancer, but information about its prognostic impact in breast cancer is limited. The primary aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of STn expression on outcome of invasive breast cancer in 207 women who received anthracyline-containing adjuvant chemotherapy in a prospective clinical trial. Methods. Expression of STn was determined by an immunohistochemical procedure using the B72.3 monoclonal antibody. The extent of staining was determined by two observers using a 0 through 4 point scale, with 0 representing $<$5% of cells staining; 1: 5-25%; 2: 26-50%; 3: 51-75%; and 4: $>$75%. Intraobserver and interobserver agreement was.78-.92 (kappa). Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional regression survival analyses were used to compare STn-negative and STn-positive patients. Results. Forty-eight (23%) of the 207 specimens demonstrated positive staining of STn. With a median follow-up of five years, STn-positivity was associated with a higher 5-year recurrence-free survival time than STn-negativity (67% vs. 80%, respectively; p = 0.03). STn expression was significantly associated with menopausal status (p = 0.04) but not other conventional prognostic markers. The risk of breast cancer recurrence and death was assessed by multivariate Cox regression analyses with adjustment for lymph node status, tumor size, menopausal status, hormone receptor status, nuclear grade, S-phase fraction and ploidy. In the final multivariate model for recurrence-free survival, the three factors that showed prognostic significance were: lymph node status (hazard ratio (HR) 3.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-8.49), STn expression (HR 2.02, 95% CI 1.09-3.73), and tumor size (HR 1.96, 95% CI 1.05-3.64). STn was also associated with worse overall survival (HR 2.16, 95% CI 0.95-4.92) in multivariate analysis. Conclusion. STn antigen was shown to be a predictor of poor outcome in breast cancer. This tumor-associated antigen may be a valuable marker for identifying individuals at high risk of developing recurrent disease who may benefit from adjuvant therapy targeted at STn following definitive local therapy. Further study is needed to clarify the biologic and prognostic role of STn in breast cancer.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Kinney, Anita Yeomans, "The prognostic significance of sialyl-Tn antigen in women treated with adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9715365.