Background We studied discordance in estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status between multiple distant metastases from the same breast cancer patient.
Material and methods Multiple distant metastases from 55 female patients were stained for ERα, PR and HER2 by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization for confirmation of the HER2 status.
Results Different metastatic sites within the same patient showed discordance in ERα receptor status in 7.3% or 10.9% of patients (using a 10% or 1% threshold for positivity, respectively). For PR, 29.1% or 30.9% of patients showed discordance. Taking ERα and PR together, 36.4% of cases (both thresholds) showed discrepancy between metastases. In 10.9% (10% threshold) or 14.5% of patients (1% threshold), such discordance could have clinical consequences with regard to hormonal treatment. For HER2, there was 3.6% discordance on the immunohistochemical level but 0% on the gene level.
Conclusion In a significant proportion of metastatic breast cancer patients, discordance in ERα and PR receptor status between different metastatic sites was observed. This implies that multiple metastases may need to be biopsied to optimally reassess receptors.