Comparison of HER-2 and hormone receptor expression in primary breast cancers and asynchronous paired metastases: Impact on patient management

Valentina Guarneri, Simona Giovannelli, Guido Ficarra, Stefania Bettelli, Antonino Maiorana, Federico Piacentini, Elena Barbieri, Maria Vittoria Dieci, Roberto D'Amico, Gordana Jovic, Pierfranco Conte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. The assessment of hormone receptors (HRs) and human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2 is necessary to select patients who are candidates for hormonal and anti-HER-2 therapy. The evaluation of these parameters is generally carried out in primary tumors and it is not clear if reassessment in metastatic lesions might have an impact on patient management. The primary aim of this analysis was to compare HER-2 and HR status in primary tumors versus metastatic sites in breast cancer patients. Patients and Methods. Seventy-five patients with available samples from primary tumors and paired metastases were included. HER-2 status was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and/or fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH); HR status was assessed by IHC. Results. Nineteen percent of primary tumors were HER-2 positive; 77% were HR positive. Sites of biopsied or resected metastases were: locoregional soft tissues (n = 30), liver (n = 20), central nervous system (n = 5), bone (n = 5), pleura (n = 4), distant soft tissues (n = 3), abdomen (stomach, colon, peritoneum) (n = 3), bronchus (n = 3), and bone marrow (n = 2). For paired metastases, the HER-2 status was unchanged in 84% of cases; two patients changed from positive to negative, while 10 patients converted from negative to positive (agreement, 84%; κ = 0.5681). A change in HR status was observed in 16 cases (21%): nine cases from positive to negative and seven cases from negative to positive (agreement, 78.7%; κ = 0.4158). Conclusions. Further studies are necessary to better define the level of discordance in HER-2 or HR status between primary tumors and paired metastases. However, a biopsy of metastatic disease can be recommended, if feasible with minimal invasiveness, because treatment options might change for a significant proportion of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-844
Number of pages7
JournalThe oncologist
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


  • Breast cancer
  • HER-2
  • Hormone receptors
  • Metastasis biopsy
  • Primary tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of HER-2 and hormone receptor expression in primary breast cancers and asynchronous paired metastases: Impact on patient management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this