Aims and background: Hormones are considered to be an important factor in the etiology of breast cancer. Serum hormonal profiles of premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer patients as well as estrogen receptor (ER) concentrations in breast cancer tissues were examined in an attempt to establish a possible association between hormones and breast cancer risk and to elucidate the biological features of the disease among Egyptian female patients.
Methods: Levels of estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), progesterone (P), LH, FSH, prolactin, T3, T4 and TSH were measured by highly specific radioimmunoassays in the sera of women with breast cancer and compared to those of control subjects. ER concentrations in breast tumor tissues were measured using 125I-radioreceptor assay.
Results: Levels of T and prolactin showed a significant increase in both premenopausal and postmenopausal patients. E2 and P levels were significantly increased in follicular premenopausal and postmenopausal patients. Luteal E2 showed non-significant changes, whereas the luteal P level was significantly decreased. No significant alterations were found in the levels of serum LH, FSH, T3, T4 and TSH either in premenopausal or postmenopausal patients. Higher levels of ER were found in the tumors of postmenopausal than in those of premenopausal patients. A positive correlation was found between levels of ER and age of the patients (r = 0.35), whereas a negative correlation was observed between ER and serum E2 (r = -0.26).
Conclusions: This study provides evidence of an association between high levels of serum E2 and T and increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Abnormalities in serum P and prolactin are probably associated with a breast cancer risk and ER may be considered as a biochemical marker for breast cancer development.