Article Text


The differing predictive values of oestrogen receptor assays for large breast cancers.
  1. D. J. Gaskell,
  2. R. A. Hawkins,
  3. A. L. Tesdale,
  4. K. Sangster,
  5. U. Chetty,
  6. A. P. Forrest
  1. University Department of Surgery, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, UK.


    Thirty elderly patients with T3 or T4 breast cancer underwent a wedge biopsy for radioligand-binding assay (RLA) of oestrogen receptor (ER) activity. A second, separate group of 21 elderly patients with T3 and T4 breast cancers underwent fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) for immunocytochemical assay of ER (ER-ICA). All the women received tamoxifen as primary treatment and response was assessed by UICC criteria. Tumour ER concentration by RLA was correlated with both response (Spearman's R = + 0.52) and time to progression (R = + 0.76). Nine patients with receptor-rich tumours (> 100 fmol/mg protein) failed to show a response. However, the percentage of cells staining for ER by ER-ICA assay was much more strongly related to the likelihood of response (R = + 0.89); no patient with < 20% cells staining responded. Wedge biopsy and the biochemical determination of ER activity is of limited value in predicting the likely response to tamoxifen; ER-ICA assays on such tumours may be more informative.

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