Appropriate patient management requires precise and meaningful tumor classification. Breast cancer classification continues to evolve from traditional morphologic evaluation to more sophisticated systems with the integration of new knowledge from research being translated into practice. Breast cancer is heterogeneous at the molecular level, with diversified patterns of gene expression, which is presumably responsible for the difference in tumor behavior and prognosis. Since the beginning of this century, new molecular technology has been gradually applied to breast cancer research on issues pertinent to prognosis (prognostic signature) and therapeutic prediction (predictive signature), and much progress has been made.


To summarize the current states and the prospective future of molecular classification of breast cancer.

Data Sources.—

Sources include recent medical literature on molecular classification of breast cancer.


Identification of intrinsic tumor subtypes has set a foundation for refining the breast cancer molecular classification. Studies have explored the genetic features within the intrinsic cancer subtypes and have identified novel molecular targets that lead to the innovation of clinical assays to predict a patient's prognosis and to provide specific guidelines for therapeutic decisions. With the development and implication of these molecular tools, we have remarkably advanced our knowledge and enhanced our power to provide optimal management to patients. However, challenges still exist. Besides accurate prediction of prognosis, we are still in urgent need of more molecular predictors for tumor response to therapeutic regimes. Further exploration along this path will be critical for improving a patient's prognosis.

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Author notes

The author has no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Presented in part at the Eighth Princeton Integrated Pathology Symposium; April 11, 2021; virtual.