Metastatic breast cancers are still incurable. Characterizing the evolutionary landscape of these cancers, including the role of metastatic axillary lymph nodes (ALNs) in seeding distant organ metastasis, can provide a rational basis for effective treatments. Here, we have described the genomic analyses of the primary tumors and metastatic lesions from 99 samples obtained from 20 patients with breast cancer. Our evolutionary analyses revealed diverse spreading and seeding patterns that govern tumor progression. Although linear evolution to successive metastatic sites was common, parallel evolution from the primary tumor to multiple distant sites was also evident. Metastatic spreading was frequently coupled with polyclonal seeding, in which multiple metastatic subclones originated from the primary tumor and/or other distant metastases. Synchronous ALN metastasis, a well-established prognosticator of breast cancer, was not involved in seeding the distant metastasis, suggesting a hematogenous route for cancer dissemination. Clonal evolution coincided frequently with emerging driver alterations and evolving mutational processes, notably an increase in apolipoprotein B mRNA–editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like–associated (APOBEC-associated) mutagenesis. Our data provide genomic evidence for a role of ALN metastasis in seeding distant organ metastasis and elucidate the evolving mutational landscape during cancer progression.
Ikram Ullah, Govindasamy-Muralidharan Karthik, Amjad Alkodsi, Una Kjällquist, Gustav Stålhammar, John Lövrot, Nelson-Fuentes Martinez, Jens Lagergren, Sampsa Hautaniemi, Johan Hartman, Jonas Bergh
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.