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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-26

Estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 status of breast cancers in women visiting the Jos University Teaching Hospital


1 Department of Histopathology, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria
2 Department of Histopathology, Kaduna State University, Kaduna, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication15-Feb-2018

Correspondence Address:
Innocent Emmanuel
Department of Histopathology, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/anm.anm_6_17

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   Abstract 


Introduction: Breast cancer remains the most common malignancy in women and the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in this gender. The disease in the indigenous African woman is associated with an inherent aggressive biology and worst clinical outcome. As the malignancy is a heterogeneous entity, each case must be individually categorized for efficient therapy. Current clinical practice employs the use of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), as biomarkers to appropriately select patients that would benefit from targeted therapy against these major molecular pathways of the disease. This study aims at establishing the ER, PR, and HER2 status of breast cancer in women visiting the Jos University Teaching Hospital.
Materials and Methods: All histologically confirmed cases of breast cancer at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2012, with sufficient clinical records, were subjected to immunohistochemistry for the ER, PR, and HER2 status.
Results: A total of 96 cases of female breast cancers were histologically diagnosed during the period of the study. Sixty-three (65.6%) cases met the inclusion criteria. The predominant histological type was invasive carcinoma (no special type) accounting for 54 (85.7%) cases. Scarf Bloom Richardson Grade 1, 2, and 3 for the cancer cases were: 18 (28.6%), 29 (46.0%), and 16 (25.4%), respectively. The rate of ER, PR, and HER2 positivity were 36.5%, 28.6%, and 33.3%, respectively. There were 26 (41.3%) triple-negative cases.
Conclusion: The study shows a relatively low rate of hormone-receptor positivity, and higher HER2 positivity of breast cancers in our locality, which may be responsible for poor prognosis in our patients.

Keywords: Breast, cancer, estrogen, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Jos, progesterone, receptor


How to cite this article:
Emmanuel I, Mandong BM, Kwaghe BV, Yakubu D. Estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 status of breast cancers in women visiting the Jos University Teaching Hospital. Ann Nigerian Med 2017;11:22-6

How to cite this URL:
Emmanuel I, Mandong BM, Kwaghe BV, Yakubu D. Estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 status of breast cancers in women visiting the Jos University Teaching Hospital. Ann Nigerian Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Dec 13];11:22-6. Available from: http://www.anmjournal.com/text.asp?2017/11/1/22/225612




   Introduction Top


Breast cancer remains the most common malignancy in women globally.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] In Jos (Nigeria), it is followed closely by cancers of the cervix, prostate, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, liver, and colorectum, respectively, for all cancers in both males and female.[9]

The breast cancer burden is increasing in developing countries. It is estimated that 70% of new cancer cases will occur in inhabitants of developing countries by the year 2020, and a vast number of these cancers occurring in females, would be of the breast.[10],[11],[12]

More disturbing about the management of breast cancer is the issue of late presentation in the African population and black American women.[5],[13],[14],[15],[16]

Breast cancer does present as a systemic disease from the onset, with some patients with early breast cancer developing metastases whatever the treatment undertaken.[17] Moreover, the intensity of local treatment does not correlate with survival and the risk of metastatic recurrence.[18] A possible explanation for this is blood-borne micro-metastases that are present at the time of initial diagnosis. These observations lead to a more conservative approach to surgical intervention in breast cancer and the concurrent use of medical therapy.[18] Since breast cancer, is a disease with significant clinical diversity, an individualized approach to management and treatment decision is necessary.[19],[20] In concurrent clinical practice, breast cancer biomarkers including estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) are routinely assessed to help select patients who are appropriate candidates for treatment that target these major molecular pathways of the disease.[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28]

The purpose of this study was to establish the hormone receptors, and HER2 status of female breast cancers seen at our centre between January 2010 and December 2012, and to relate this finding with the age, histological type, and grade of the malignancy.


   Materials and Methods Top


Sixty-three cases of histologically confirmed breast cancers with complete bio-data were retrieved from the records of the diagnosis register of the Department of Histopathology, Jos University Teaching Hospital. This covered the period between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2012.

All cases with sufficient bio-data were included while those with unsuitable tissue blocks were excluded from the study.

Histologically, confirmed breast cancers were subtyped and graded using the modified Bloom-Richardson system.[29],[30]

These cases were subjected to immunohistochemistry with immune-peroxidase (Avidin-Biotin complex technique) staining for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 receptors. The antibody clone for ER, PR, and HER2 used were (dilution 1:100): NCL-L-ER; L-PGR; and NCL-L-CB11, respectively, all from Leica.

Paraffin-embedded tissue was cut at 3 microns thick and allowed to cool on a hot plate for an hour. Sections were taken into various stages of processing which included: water, xylene, alcohol, and finally water. Antigen retrieval was performed using citric acid solution (PH 6.0) in a microwave at power 100 for 15 min.

Sections were equilibrated by gently displacing the hot citric acid with running tap water for 3 min. Peroxidase was blocked in tissue using peroxidase block for 15 min. Sections were washed for 2 min with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) mixed with Tween 20. Sections were then blocked with protein block for 15 min. Sections were washed for 2 min with PBS. Sections were incubated with primary antibody for 45 min. Sections were washed for 5 min with PBS. Secondary antibody was added for 15 min. Sections were washed twice with PBS. Polymer was added for 15 min. Sections were washed twice with PBS and diaminobenzidine (DAB) (diluted 1/100 with DAB substrate) for 5 min.

Sections were washed with water and counterstained for 2 min with hematoxylin. Sections were washed, dehydrated, cleared, and mounted.

The LEICA DM 500 (LEICA ICC500 HD) microscope was used to review the histological slides and acquire photomicrographs [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Photomicrographs of grade 2 breast cancer staining positively with H/E, ER, PR, and HER2 stains Section shows sheets of malignant epithelial cells exhibiting (a) marked pleomorphism, hyperchromasia, increased nucleocytoplasmic ratio, and occasional mitosis (H/E). (b and c) Strong nuclear staining for estrogen receptor antibody. (d and e) Strong nuclear staining for progesterone receptor antibody. (f and g) Intense and complete membrane staining for HER 2

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The scoring system for ER and PR status was based on J score which scores the percentage of tumor cells with nuclear staining. Scores 0 was classified as negative; scores 1 and 2 as intermediate; and score 3 as positive.[31],[32]

HER2 staining was scored based on membrane staining pattern (intensity and completeness) - Hercept Test. 32 Score 0 and 1+ were classified as negative; Score 2+ as inconclusive (weakly positive); and score 3+ as positive.[32]


   Results Top


A total of 96 cases of breast cancers were diagnosed histologically at the Jos University Teaching Hospital during the period of the study. A total of 63 (65.6%) cases of these were included in this study, as they have adequate records and were sufficient for staining with the three immunomarkers.

The mean age at the diagnosis of breast cancers was 46.7 ± 11.1 years while the median age was 46 years. The age range was 28–74 years [Table 1].
Table 1: Age distribution of female patients diagnosed with breast cancer

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The number of ER, PR, and HER2-positive cases were: 23 (36.5%), 18 (28.6%), and 21 (33.3%), respectively [Table 2] and [Table 3].
Table 2: Distribution of female breast cancer according to histological type, with respect to estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status

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Table 3: Distribution of female breast cancer according to histological grade, with respect to estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status

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The predominant histological type of breast cancers was invasive carcinoma no special type (NST) (54 cases) constituting 85.7% of cases. Of these, 18 (33.3%), 14 (25.9%), and 17 (32.7%) were positive for ER, PR, and HER2, respectively [Table 2].

The predominant histological grade was Grade 2 (29 cases) accounting for 46.0% of cases. Grades 1 and Grade 3 recorded 18 (28.6%) and 16 (25.4%) case, respectively.


   Discussion Top


The mean age realized in this study (46.7 years) is in conformity with an earlier study in our hospital, and many other African reports.[33],[34],[35],[36],[37],[38] This finding mirrors the earlier occurrence of breast cancer in Africans than in Caucasians, a fact attributed to a shorter life expectancy in the former than in the later.[7],[37],[38],[39] As fewer Africans attain an elderly age, only cancers occurring at an earlier age are seen.

Invasive carcinoma (NST) was the predominant histological subtype in our study. This finding has been corroborated by many reports across the world.[40],[41],[42],[43],[44]

A low rate of ER, and PR positivity was seen in this study. These lower representations for hormone-receptors positivity are consistent with a previous report from our center and other reports of African studies.[33],[45],[46],[47],[48] It follows, therefore, that fewer women in our locality and Africa would benefit from hormonal therapy employed against this disease.[27] This treatment option for hormone receptor-positive tumors involves blocking estrogen production with aromatase inhibitors (e.g., anastrazole), or blocking the action of estrogen on its receptor with receptor blocking agents (e.g., tamoxifen).[49]

The rate of positivity for human epidermal growth factor 2 in our study is consistent with values from earlier studies in Africa.[45],[46],[48],[50],[51] This is relatively higher than the rate of 12%–25% reported in Caucasians.[52],[53],[54],[55] Positivity for HER2 is predictive of favorable response to targeted therapy against HER2. This therapy against this receptor, either as adjuvant or neoadjuvant form is achieved using the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (herceptin).[56] Trastuzumab targets HER2-positive breast cancers, inhibiting cell proliferation, and inducing cell death through various mechanisms, improving survival. More women in the African setting, therefore, are likely to benefit from this therapy relative to their Caucasian counterparts.

The proportional distribution between hormone receptor positivity and histological grade in this study showed that Grade 2 breast cancers have the highest percentage while Grades 1 and 3 have approximately equal number of cases. This finding is not in agreement with the decreasing pattern seen in studies from Algeria, and India, with Grade 1 having the highest percentage while Grade 3 the lowest.[57],[58],[59] As ER-positive tumors have been shown to have better prognosis, it is expected that most cases should be concentrated in Grade 1 (a mild histological grade). The discordant finding in this study could be attributed to small sample size.


   Conclusion Top


The study shows a relative low rate of hormone receptor, and higher rate of HER2-positive breast cancers in our locality, which may be responsible for poor prognosis in our patients.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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