R A Walker

University of Leicester, Leicester, ENG, United Kingdom

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Publications (37)162.44 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background This phase II, open-label, multicentre study aimed to evaluate changes in cell proliferation and biomarkers, as well as efficacy of lapatinib in treatment-naïve patients with HER-2-negative primary breast cancer.Patients and methodsPatients received 1500 mg lapatinib for 28-42 days before surgery with repeat biopsies and measurements. The primary end point was inhibition of cell proliferation measured by Ki67; the secondary end points included clinical response, adverse events and changes in FOXO3a, FOXM1, p-AKT and HER-3.ResultsOverall, there was no significant reduction in Ki67 with treatment (assessment carried out in 28 of 31 subjects enrolled). However, four patients (14%) showed a reduction in Ki67 ≥50%. Four of 25 patients (16%) had a partial response to treatment judged by sequential ultrasound measurements. Response, in terms of either Ki67 or ultrasound, did not relate to changes in any biomarker assessed at baseline, including the estrogen receptor (ER) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). However, all four clinical responders were HER-3 positive, as were three of four Ki67 responders.Conclusions Overall, a pre-surgical course of lapatinib monotherapy had little effect on this group of patients; however, in subsets of patients, especially those with HER-3-positive tumors, we observed either reduction in proliferation (Ki67) or tumor size; EGFR/ER status had no impact.
    Annals of Oncology 12/2012; 24(4). DOI:10.1093/annonc/mds594 · 6.58 Impact Factor
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    SM Johnson, JA Shaw, RA Walker
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract presented at the Second International Symposium on the Molecular Biology of Breast Cancer, Lillehammer, Norway. 12–16 March 2000
    Breast Cancer Research 04/2012; 2:1-1. DOI:10.1186/bcr96 · 5.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: These guidelines supplement existing guidelines on HER2 testing by immunohistochemistry and in-situ hybridisation(ISH) methods in the UK. They provide a specific focus on aspects of guidance relevant to HER2 ISH testing methods, both fluorescent and chromogenic. They are formulated to give advice on methodology, interpretation and quality control for ISH-based testing of HER2 status in common tumour types, including both breast and gastric tumours. The aim is to ensure that all ISH-based testing is accurate, reliable and timely.
    Journal of clinical pathology 06/2011; 64(8):649-53. DOI:10.1136/jcp.2011.089847 · 2.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is amplified and overexpressed in 20-25% of breast cancers. This study investigated circulating free DNA (cfDNA) for detection of HER2 gene amplification in patients with breast cancer. Circulating free DNA was extracted from plasma of unselected patients with primary breast cancer (22 before surgery and 68 following treatment), 30 metastatic patients and 98 female controls using the QIAamp Blood DNA Mini Kit (Qiagen). The ratio of HER2 to an unamplified reference gene (contactin-associated protein 1 (CNTNAP1)) was measured in cfDNA samples by quantitative PCR (qPCR) using SK-BR-3 cell line DNA as a positive control. We validated the qPCR assay with DNA extracted from 23 HER2 3+ and 40 HER2-negative tumour tissue samples; the results agreed for 60 of 63 (95.2%) tumours. Amplification was detected in cfDNA for 8 of 68 patients following primary breast cancer treatment and 5 of 30 metastatic patients, but was undetected in 22 patients with primary breast cancer and 98 healthy female controls. Of the patients with amplification in cfDNA, 10 had HER2 3+ tumour status by immunohistochemistry. The results demonstrate for the first time the existence of amplified HER2 in cfDNA in the follow-up of breast cancer patients who are otherwise disease free. This approach could potentially provide a marker in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.
    British Journal of Cancer 03/2011; 104(8):1342-8. DOI:10.1038/bjc.2011.89 · 4.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: These guidelines update the previous UK HER2 testing guidelines and have been formulated to give advice on methodology, interpretation and quality assurance to ensure that HER2 testing results are accurate, reliable and timely with the expansion of testing to all patients with breast cancer at the time of primary diagnosis. The recommendations for testing are the use of immunohistochemistry but with analysis of equivocal cases by in situ hybridisation to clarify their HER2 status or the use of frontline fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) testing for those laboratories wishing to do so; the inclusion of a chromosome 17 probe is strongly recommended. Laboratories using chromogenic or silver in situ hybridisation should perform an initial validation against FISH. For immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridisation there must be participation in the appropriate National External Quality Assurance scheme.
    Journal of clinical pathology 08/2008; 61(7):818-24. DOI:10.1136/jcp.2007.054866 · 2.55 Impact Factor
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    R A Walker
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is the predominant malignancy where oncologists use predictive markers clinically to select treatment options, with steroid receptors having been used for many years. Immunohistochemistry has taken over as the major assay method used for assessing markers. Despite its extensive use there are still issues around tissue fixation, methodology, interpretation and quantification. Although many markers have been evaluated, the oestrogen receptor remains the most reliable and best example of a predictor of treatment response. It is of major importance clinically that those undertaking interpretation of predictive markers understand the technical pitfalls and are aware of how expression of a particular marker relates to breast cancer pathology. A false negative or a false positive result will impact on patient management.
    Journal of clinical pathology 07/2008; 61(6):689-96. DOI:10.1136/jcp.2006.041830 · 2.55 Impact Factor
  • D. Touma, R. A. Walker, J. A. Shaw
    EJC Supplements 07/2008; 6(9):130-130. DOI:10.1016/S1359-6349(08)71673-2 · 9.39 Impact Factor
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    Breast Cancer Research 05/2008; 10:1-49. DOI:10.1186/bcr1954 · 5.33 Impact Factor
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    Breast Cancer Research 05/2008; 10:1-1. DOI:10.1186/bcr1931 · 5.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a previous investigation reduced apoptosis was identified in normal breast tissue from cancer-containing breasts away from the cancer in comparison to age-matched normal breast from women without cancer. The hypothesis for this study was that defects in expression of apoptotic regulatory and DNA repair proteins would facilitate persistence of genetic alterations and predispose to breast cancer development. Using immunohistochemistry normal breast from 120 age-matched women (58 with breast cancer, 62 without) was analysed for proliferation, apoptosis, bcl2, BAX, caspase 3, Hsp27, Hsp70, BRCA1, ATM and BARD1. All assessments were performed without knowledge as to whether it was a cancer case or control. A significant difference was found for apoptotic index which was higher in controls (P < 0.02). There was no change in apoptotic and proliferation index with age for cancer cases unlike controls. Higher expression of bcl2 (P = 0.001) and Hsp27 (P = 0.001) was found in normal breast from cancer-containing breast in comparison to controls. There were no differences in the other proteins. Apoptosis has been found to be reduced in normal breast in a separate cohort of women with breast cancer, along with increased expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins bcl2 and Hsp27. These alterations in apoptotic regulation would enhance tumour development. Further studies are needed to examine the value of these proteins as risk markers.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 03/2008; 114(1):63-9. DOI:10.1007/s10549-008-9988-2 · 4.20 Impact Factor
  • V Speirs, RA Walker
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    ABSTRACT: Oestrogen receptor (ER) is arguably the single most important biological predictive factor that exists today. In the last 10 years or so, however, our understanding of ER biology has undergone a paradigm shift following the identification of a second ER, ERbeta, with the original ER being renamed ERalpha. A number of isoforms have additionally been described, especially for ERbeta. Our knowledge of ER signalling has also increased with the recognition of accessory co-regulatory proteins, which help direct the transcriptional cascade. Here we outline these changes and discuss what biological and clinical implications these could have in the mammary gland.
    The Journal of Pathology 04/2007; 211(5):499-506. DOI:10.1002/path.2130 · 7.43 Impact Factor
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    AR Hinnis, J C A Luckett, RA Walker
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    ABSTRACT: Established clinico-pathological factors can place patients with breast cancer into good and poor prognostic categories, but even within these groups behaviour and response to treatment can differ. This study examined the value of cell cycle and apoptotic regulatory proteins in predicting behaviour in a poor prognostic group. A total of 165 patients, all of whom had died of breast cancer with duration of survival 12-127 months, median 38 months, were examined using immunohistochemistry for proliferation, apoptosis, p53, phosphorylated p53, p21, checkpoint kinase 2 (Chk2), bcl-2, bax, survivin and XIAP. All had received chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy and were predominantly T2, node positive, grade III with only half oestrogen-receptor (ER) positive. High proliferation, phosphorylated p53, Chk2 and survivin expression correlated with grade III and lack of ER, whereas low proliferation, p21 and bcl-2 related to better grade and presence of ER. On univariate analysis grade, proliferation, phosphorylated p53, bcl-2, ER and survivin related to duration of survival. In multivariate analysis, grade (P=0.001) and survivin (P=0.005) were independent prognostic factors, grade III and presence of survivin relating to shorter survival. The latter was particularly for those patients receiving neoadjuvant therapy and adjuvant chemo- and hormonal therapy. The presence of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein survivin is a highly significant independent predictor of shorter duration of survival of patients with poor prognostic features, and merits investigation as a marker in other prognostic groups.
    British Journal of Cancer 03/2007; 96(4):639-45. DOI:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603616 · 4.82 Impact Factor
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    RA Walker, C V Martin
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    ABSTRACT: There is a clear association between the development of breast cancer and increasing age, with 80% of cancers occurring in women more than 50 years of age and one-third in women over 70 years. Following the menopause the breast undergoes involution, with the main changes affecting the terminal ductal lobular unit. There is an increase in oestrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-positive cells, a decrease in proliferation but, in comparison to premenopausal breasts, a greater number of ERalpha-proliferating cells. The breast cancers that occur in women >/= 75 years are more likely to be ER-positive, with a low growth rate and limited expression of HER-2 and p53. It is proposed that uneven involution of the breast, the persistence of at-risk lesions, the presence of ERalpha-proliferating cells and local oestrogen metabolism in breast adipose tissue are factors in the development of breast cancers with a well-differentiated phenotype.
    The Journal of Pathology 01/2007; 211(2):232-40. DOI:10.1002/path.2079 · 7.43 Impact Factor
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    Breast Cancer Research 11/2006; 8:1-1. DOI:10.1186/bcr1575 · 5.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article presents the results and observed effects of the UK National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) external quality assurance scheme in breast histopathology. The major objectives were to monitor and improve the consistency of diagnoses made by pathologists and the quality of prognostic information in pathology reports. The scheme is based on a twice yearly circulation of 12 cases to over 600 registered participants. The level of agreement was generally measured using kappa statistics. Four main situations were encountered with respect to diagnostic consistency, namely: (1) where consistency is naturally very high-this included diagnosing in situ and invasive carcinomas (and certain distinctive subtypes) and uncomplicated benign lesions; (2) where the level of consistency was low but could be improved by making guidelines more detailed and explicit-this included histological grading; (3) where consistency could be improved but only by changing the system of classification-this included classification of ductal carcinoma in situ; and (4) where no improvement in consistency could be achieved-this included diagnosing atypical hyperplasia and reporting vascular invasion. Size measurements were more consistent for invasive than in situ carcinomas. Even in cases where there is a high level of agreement on tumour size, a few widely outlying measurements were encountered, for which no explanation is readily forthcoming. These results broadly confirm the robustness of the systems of breast disease diagnosis and classification adopted by the NHSBSP, and also identify areas where improvement or new approaches are required.
    Journal of Clinical Pathology 03/2006; 59(2):138-45. DOI:10.1136/jcp.2004.025551 · 2.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The original role of the National Health Service breast screening programme (pathology) external quality assessment (EQA) scheme was educational; it aimed to raise standards, reinforce use of common terminology, and assess the consistency of pathology reporting of breast disease in the UK. To examine the performance (scores) of pathologists participating in the scheme in recent years. The scheme has evolved to help identify poor performers, reliant upon setting an acceptable cutpoint. Therefore, the effects of different cutpoint strategies were evaluated and implications discussed. Pathologists who joined the scheme improved over time, particularly those who did less well initially. There was no obvious association between performance and the number of breast cancer cases reported each year. This is not unexpected because the EQA does not measure expertise, but was established to demonstrate a common level of performance (conformity to consensus) for routine cases, rather than the ability to diagnose unusual/difficult cases. A new method of establishing cutpoints using interquartile ranges is proposed. The findings also suggest that EQA can alter a pathologist's practice: those who leave the scheme (for whatever reason) have, on average, marginally lower scores. Consequently, with the cutpoint methodology currently used (which is common to several EQA schemes) there is the potential for the cutpoint to drift upwards. In future, individuals previously deemed competent could subsequently be erroneously labelled as poor performers. Due consideration should be given to this issue with future development of schemes.
    Journal of Clinical Pathology 03/2006; 59(2):130-7. DOI:10.1136/jcp.2004.025619 · 2.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In normal breast and ductal carcinoma in situ, myoepithelial cells form an incomplete layer separating the epithelial compartment from the stromal environment. Transition to invasive disease is marked by penetration of the myoepithelial-basement membrane (BM) interface. One mechanism involved in tumour invasion is breakdown of extracellular matrices by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). It was hypothesized that myoepithelial cells may modulate tumour invasion by controlling MMP gene expression, both in tumour cells and in peri-ductal fibroblasts. To investigate this, myoepithelial cells from normal breast were purified and characterized and their effect on tumour cell invasive potential was assessed. The effect on MMP gene expression of breast cancer cells cultured alone or in combination with primary normal breast fibroblasts was also analysed using RT-PCR with ELISA quantitation, with zymographic analysis to measure enzyme activity. Normal breast myoepithelial cells significantly reduced invasion by the breast cancer cell lines MCF-7, T47D, MDA-MB 231, and MDA-MB 468 when they were cultured alone or in the presence of a fibroblast population. Reduced invasion was associated with changes in MMP gene expression. In those tumour cells expressing MMP, there was a significant down-regulation of MMP-2 (MDA-MB 468, p<0.001), MMP-9 (MDA-MB 231, p=0.05; MDA-MB 468, p<0.001), and MT1-MMP (p<0.001 for both MDA-MB 231 and MDA-MB 468). Myoepithelial cells also caused a significant decrease in MMP gene expression in co-cultured fibroblasts. Furthermore, this was associated with reduced gelatinolytic activity as identified by zymography. This study demonstrates for the first time that primary myoepithelial cells from normal breast reduce breast cancer cell invasion and that this is mediated via modulation of both tumour cell and fibroblast function. This emphasizes the importance of the myoepithelial cell in controlling the breast microenvironment and focuses on the potential significance of the loss of this population with disease progression.
    The Journal of Pathology 12/2003; 201(4):562-72. DOI:10.1002/path.1483 · 7.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Smooth muscle actin (SMA) positive myofibroblasts have been implicated in tumour invasion; however, acquisition of SMA is not limited to peritumorous fibroblasts and other changes in fibroblasts may be more specifically related to the malignant environment. CD34 is a sialomucin expressed by normal breast fibroblasts but lost in invasive carcinomas. The aim of this study was to establish the relation between CD34 and SMA expression in breast fibroblasts and to analyse whether loss of CD34 is specific for invasive disease. Immunohistochemistry for CD34 and SMA was performed on 135 cases including 10 normal, 10 fibroadenomas, 40 infiltrating ductal carcinomas, 55 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), and 20 radial scar/complex sclerosing lesions. The relation between staining pattern and histopathological features was recorded as positive, negative, or reduced. Fibroblasts around all normal duct-lobule units and those showing epithelial hyperplasia were CD34 positive and mainly SMA negative. In fibroadenomas, fibroblasts retained CD34 but acquired SMA expression. In contrast, fibroblasts around invasive carcinoma were CD34 positive and SMA negative. In DCIS, loss of CD34 was significantly more frequent in high grade tumours than in low or intermediate grade ones (p < 0.001). The acquisition of SMA was seen more frequently than the loss of CD34, particularly in non-high grade DCIS. In all radial scars, fibroblasts were SMA positive but CD34 negative, and a similar pattern was seen in stromal cells in areas of fibrosis following core biopsy. These results show that SMA positive myofibroblasts exhibit variable expression of CD34, indicating that these markers are not coordinately controlled. Loss of CD34 is strongly related to the malignant phenotype, in both invasive and preinvasive disease, but is not entirely specific because radial scar fibroblasts and fibroblasts in reactive fibrosis exhibit a similar phenotype. The functional relevance of altered CD34 expression is unclear but the very focal changes implicate local signalling mechanisms probably of epithelial origin.
    Journal of Clinical Pathology 04/2003; 56(4):271-6. · 2.55 Impact Factor
  • R A Walker
    Histopathology 09/2002; 41(3a). DOI:10.1046/j.1365-2559.2002.14752.x · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chromosome 3p allele loss is a frequent event in many common sporadic cancers including lung, breast, kidney, ovarian, and head and neck cancer. To analyse the extent and frequency of 3p allelic losses in T1N0 and T1N1 invasive sporadic breast cancer, 19 microsatellite markers spread along 3p were analysed in 40 such breast carcinomas with known clinicopathological parameters. Loss of heterozygosity analysis was carried out using 3p microsatellite markers that were non-randomly distributed and chosen to represent regions that show hemizygous and/or homozygous losses in lung cancer (lung cancer tumour suppressor gene region 1 ( LCTSGR1) at 3p21.3 and LCTSGR2 at 3p12), and regions demonstrating suppression of tumorigenicity in breast, kidney, lung, and ovarian cancer. Allelic loss was seen at one or more loci in 22 of these clinically early stage sporadic breast tumours, but none had complete 3p allele loss. Several regions with non-overlapping deletions were defined, namely: (1) 18 tumours showed loss at 3p21-22, a physical distance of 12 Mb; (2) 11 tumours showed loss at 3p12 within a physical distance of 1 Mb, this region is contained within LCTSGR2; (3) six tumours showed loss at 3p25-24, including the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) locus; (4) five tumours showed loss at 3p14.2, including the fragile histidine triad (FHIT) locus. This is the largest study to date defining the extent and range of 3p allelic losses in early stage invasive breast cancer and the results indicate that region 3p21-22 containing LCTSGR1 and a region at 3p12 within LCTSGR2 are the most frequent sites of 3p allelic loss in these breast carcinomas. This suggests that tumour suppressor genes located in these regions may play important roles in the development of breast cancer. There was an association between increasing 3p allelic loss and increasing tumour grade and loss of progesterone (p = 0.0098) and oestrogen (p = 0.0472) receptor expression, indicating a link between 3p allelic loss and the regulation of differentiation.
    Molecular Pathology 11/2001; 54(5):300-6.