Expression of estrogen and androgen receptors in differentiated thyroid cancer: An additional criterion to assess the patient's risk

Flavia Magri, Valentina Capelli, Mario Rotondi, Paola Leporati, Luigi La Manna, Rubina Ruggiero, Alberto Malovini, Riccardo Bellazzi, Laura Villani, Luca Chiovato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Estrogen receptor (ER) and androgen receptor (AR) may be expressed in thyroid tumors, but their prognostic role is controversial. We investigated whether ER and AR expressions could confer a more aggressive phenotype to thyroid tumors. We enrolled 91 patients (13 males and 78 females, mean age 49.3 ± 14.8 years) bearing small (T1 in the 2006 TNM system) differentiated thyroid cancers (DTC). Thirty-eight tumors were incidental histological findings. Using immunohistochemistry, we evaluated ERα, ERβ, and AR expressions in tumors and in its correspondent extra-tumor parenchyma. In tumors, 13 (16.7%) women and one (7.7%) man expressed ERα; 42 (53.8%) women and six (46%) men expressed ERβ; and 16 (20.5%) women and three (23.1%) men expressed AR. In normal thyroid parenchymas, ERb was expressed in 52 (66.7%) women and nine (69.2%) men, ERα in three (3.8%) women, and AR in 13 (16.7%) women. Compared with normal thyroid parenchyma, tumors gained ERα and lost ERβ expressions. Incidental cancers were more commonly ERα(-) than ERα(+) (47.7 vs 14.3%, P=0.037). Postsurgical serum thyroglobulin was higher in ERα(+) tumors than in the ERα(-) tumors (P=0.04). ERβ(+) tumors showed vascular invasion more frequently than the ERβ(+) tumors (26.2 vs 4.1%, P=0.005). AR(+) tumors showed capsular invasion more frequently than the AR(-) tumors (77.8 vs 46.6%, P=0.014). In conclusion, ERα positivity, ERβ negativity, and AR expressions are associated with a more aggressive phenotype of small T1-DTC. ER and AR expressions may represent an additional criterion in deciding whether to perform radioiodine ablation in these tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-471
Number of pages9
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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