The role and prognostic significance of p53 gene alterations in breast cancer

Richard M. Elledge, Suzanne A.W. Fuqua, Gary M. Clark, Pascal Pujol, D. Craig Allred

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Alterations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are the most frequent genetic changes found in breast cancer, with an incidence reported in a range of 15 to 50%. The incidence of p53 alterations is approximately 15% for in situ carcinoma, while for invasive node-positive disease it is 2 to 3 times higher. This high rate of alteration suggests that the gene plays a central role in the development of breast cancer. The p53 gene functions as a negative regulator of cell growth. Alterations in the gene lead to loss of its usual negative growth regulation and more rapid cell proliferation. Since p53 alteration can reflect a more advanced state of progression and a higher rate of proliferation, breast tumors that have a p53 alteration could have a greater probability of having micrometastasis. p53 alterations could therefore be a prognostic factor for recurrence after primary local therapy. Consistent with this hypothesis, several independent studies using different methodologies have found that breast tumors with altered p53 have a worse prognosis and are also more likely to have other poor prognostic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1993


  • breast cancer
  • gene alterations
  • p53
  • prognosis
  • progression
  • tumor suppressor genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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