An integrative view on breast cancer signature panels

Introduction: Breast cancer is heterogeneous with distinct clinical outcomes. Diverse types of markers are available on the market for breast cancer prognosis, diagnosis, and therapeutics, with distinct assay approaches. These, though they enlarge our selection pool for characterizing breast cancer patients and help improve the precision on the therapeutics, they can complicate our understanding and choice of marker panels.

Areas covered: This review aims at classifying the commonly used marker panels according to their functionalities and detection approaches, comparing their advantages and disadvantages, and identifying their shared features to gain a comprehensive understanding of the diversified molecular profiles that drive breast cancer heterogeneity.

Expert opinion: Our effort will contribute as a guidebook for clinicians on the use of breast cancer signature panels for disease management, and for researchers on the establishment of novel marker panels with improved precision and reduced complexity. We propose that collectively analyzing all available marker panels is equally important as investigating on entirely novel marker panels. Advances in technologies capturing signals from multiple levels are of practical importance in breaking through limitations on translating markers into clinical use.