Comparison of HER-2 status determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization in primary and metastatic breast carcinoma.Cancer. 2005 May 01; 103(9):1763-9.C
Accurate assessment of HER-2 status is necessary prior to anti-HER-2 antibody (trastuzumab) therapy for metastatic breast carcinoma. However, controversy exists regarding whether to assess HER-2 status in the primary tumor or in metastatic lesions. It is also unclear whether HER-2 status can change during disease progression or after chemotherapy.
Breast carcinoma samples from 60 women with known HER-2 status in both primary tumors and paired metastases (locoregional disease, n = 43 patients; distant disease, n = 17 patients) were reviewed retrospectively. Thirty-two patients underwent chemotherapy before their metastatic lesions were sampled, including 18 patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy and 14 patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy. The HER-2 gene was examined by fluorescence in situ hybridization either in paraffin-embedded tissue samples (48 primary tumors and 9 metastatic tumors) or in fine-needle aspirates (12 primary tumors and 51 metastatic tumors). HER-2 gene amplification was defined as a HER-2:chromosome 17 signal ratio >/= 2.0.
The HER-2 status of primary and metastatic tumors agreed in 58 of 60 patients (97%), including 18 (30%) amplified tumors and 40 (67%) nonamplified tumors. A discrepancy in HER-2 status was observed in specimens from two patients in which HER-2 amplification was detected in the primary tumor but not the metastatic tumors. In one patient, three foci of tumor nodules were found in the same breast; the HER-2 status was assessed in only one of them, which showed amplification; however, HER-2 amplification was not detected in the axillary lymph node metastasis. In another patient, the HER-2 gene was amplified in the primary tumor but not in the liver metastasis. No metastases showed HER-2 amplification without amplification in the primary tumor. Locoregional and distant metastases demonstrated similar concordance rates with their corresponding primary tumors (98% and 94%, respectively). Complete concordance of HER-2 status was found between primary tumors prior to chemotherapy and metastases that were sampled after chemotherapy.
The HER-2 status in breast carcinoma generally was stable during metastasis, whether to locoregional or distant sites. Chemotherapy did not modify the HER-2 status in metastatic lesions. Therefore, HER-2 amplification can be evaluated reliably in material from either primary or metastatic tumors in most patients. Further study with larger series is warranted to elucidate the significance of discordant results.