While the clinical benefit of androgen-based therapeutics in breast cancer has been known since the 1940s,we have only recently begun to fully understand themechanisms of androgen action in breast cancer. Androgen signalling pathways can have either beneficial or deleterious effects in breast cancer depending on the breast cancer subtype and intracellular context. This review discusses our current knowledge of androgen signalling in breast cancer, including the relationship between serum androgens and breast cancer risk, the prognostic significance of androgen receptor (AR) expression in different breast cancer subtypes and the downstream molecular pathways mediating androgen action in breast cancer cells. Intracrine androgen metabolism has also been discussed and proposed as a potential mechanism that may explain some of the reported differences regarding dichotomous androgen actions in breast cancers. A better understanding of AR signalling in this disease is critical given the current resurgence in interest in utilising contemporary AR-directed therapies for breast cancer and the need for biomarkers that will accurately predict clinical response.
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