A comprehensive overview of metaplastic breast cancer: clinical features and molecular aberrations

Tejaswini P. Reddy, Roberto R. Rosato, Xiaoxian Li, Stacy Moulder, Helen Piwnica-Worms, Jenny C. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Metaplastic breast cancer (MpBC) is an exceedingly rare breast cancer variant that is therapeutically challenging and aggressive. MpBC is defined by the histological presence of at least two cellular types, typically epithelial and mesenchymal components. This variant harbors a triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) phenotype, yet has a worse prognosis and decreased survival compared to TNBC. There are currently no standardized treatment guidelines specifically for MpBC. However, prior studies have found that MpBC typically has molecular alterations in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, amplification of epidermal growth factor receptor, PI3K/Akt signaling, nitric oxide signaling, Wnt/β-catenin signaling, altered immune response, and cell cycle dysregulation. Some of these molecular alterations have been studied as therapeutic targets, in both the preclinical and clinical setting. This current review discusses the histological organization and cellular origins of MpBC, molecular alterations, the role of radiation therapy, and current clinical trials for MpBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 4 2020


  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
  • Metaplastic breast cancer
  • NOS signaling
  • PI3K signaling
  • Genes, Neoplasm/genetics
  • Humans
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases/metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase/metabolism
  • Metaplasia/genetics
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Breast Neoplasms/genetics
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy/methods
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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