Discerning the clinical relevance of biomarkers in early stage breast cancer

Tarah J. Ballinger, Nawal Kassem, Fei Shen, Guanglong Jiang, Mary Lou Smith, Elda Railey, John Howell, Carol B. White, Bryan P. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Prior data suggest that breast cancer patients accept significant toxicity for small benefit. It is unclear whether personalized estimations of risk or benefit likelihood that could be provided by biomarkers alter treatment decisions in the curative setting. Methods: A choice-based conjoint (CBC) survey was conducted in 417 HER2-negative breast cancer patients who received chemotherapy in the curative setting. The survey presented pairs of treatment choices derived from common taxane- and anthracycline-based regimens, varying in degree of benefit by risk of recurrence and in toxicity profile, including peripheral neuropathy (PN) and congestive heart failure (CHF). Hypothetical biomarkers shifting benefit and toxicity risk were modeled to determine whether this knowledge alters choice. Previously identified biomarkers were evaluated using this model. Results: Based on CBC analysis, a non-anthracycline regimen was the most preferred. Patients with prior PN had a similar preference for a taxane regimen as those who were PN naïve, but more dramatically shifted preference away from taxanes when PN was described as severe/irreversible. When modeled after hypothetical biomarkers, as the likelihood of PN increased, the preference for taxane-containing regimens decreased; similarly, as the likelihood of CHF increased, the preference for anthracycline regimens decreased. When evaluating validated biomarkers for PN and CHF, this knowledge did alter regimen preference. Conclusions: Patients faced with multi-faceted decisions consider personal experience and perceived risk of recurrent disease. Biomarkers providing information on likelihood of toxicity risk do influence treatment choices, and patients may accept reduced benefit when faced with higher risk of toxicity in the curative setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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