Publication

Estrogen receptor expression is high but is of lower intensity in tubular carcinoma than in well-differentiated invasive ductal carcinoma.

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2014 Nov;138(11):1507-13. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2013-0621-OA.

Abstract

Context .- Tubular carcinoma (TC) is a rare, luminal A subtype of breast carcinoma with excellent prognosis, for which adjuvant chemotherapy is usually contraindicated. Objective .- To examine the levels of estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor expression in cases of TC and well-differentiated invasive ductal carcinoma as compared to normal breast glands and to determine if any significant differences could be detected via molecular testing. Design .- We examined ER and progesterone receptor via immunohistochemistry in tubular (N = 27), mixed ductal/tubular (N = 16), and well-differentiated ductal (N = 27) carcinomas with comparison to surrounding normal breast tissue. We additionally performed molecular subtyping of 10 TCs and 10 ductal carcinomas via the PAM50 assay. Results .- Although ER expression was high for all groups, TC had statistically significantly lower ER staining percentage (ER%) (P = .003) and difference in ER expression between tumor and accompanying normal tissue (P = .02) than well-differentiated ductal carcinomas, with mixed ductal/tubular carcinomas falling between these 2 groups. Mean ER% was 79%, 87%, and 94%, and mean tumor-normal ER% differences were 13.6%, 25.9%, and 32.6% in tubular, mixed, and ductal carcinomas, respectively. Most tumors that had molecular subtyping were luminal A (9 of 10 tubular and 8 of 10 ductal), and no significant differences in specific gene expression between the 2 groups were identified. Conclusions .- Tubular carcinoma exhibited decreased intensity in ER expression, closer to that of normal breast parenchyma, likely as a consequence of a high degree of differentiation. Lower ER% expression by TC may represent a potential pitfall when performing commercially available breast carcinoma prognostic assays that rely heavily on ER-related gene expression.

Authors

Jorns JM, Thomas DG, Healy PN, Daignault S, Vickery TL, Snider JE, Mardis ER, Davies SR, Ellis MJ, Visscher DW.