Overexpression of the HER-2/neu oncogene in pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Am J Clin Oncol. 2001 Oct;24(5):496-9. doi: 10.1097/00000421-200110000-00016.


Novel systemic treatments are needed in pancreatic cancer. The authors sought to establish the frequency of overexpression of the HER-2/neu oncogene in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma to determine the potential role of trastuzumab (Herceptin) as a therapeutic agent in this disease. Tumor specimens from patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma were analyzed by staining for p185HER2 protein using the DAKO immunohistochemical assay. Patients with and without HER-2/neu overexpression by immunohistochemistry were compared with respect to clinical and pathologic characteristics. HER-2/neu gene amplification was also evaluated by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Thirty-two of 154 patients (21%) had pancreatic adenocarcinoma that demonstrated HER-2/neu overexpression by immunohistochemistry. At initial diagnosis, 16% of resectable cancers, 17% of locally advanced cancers, and 26% of metastatic cancers were determined to have HER-2/neu overexpression. Three of 11 (27%) patients with HER-2/neu overexpression by immunohistochemistry had gene amplification by FISH. HER-2/neu overexpression occurs in a subset of pancreatic cancer. Evaluation of the efficacy of trastuzumab for patients with pancreatic cancer who overexpress HER-2/neu appears indicated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Trastuzumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Trastuzumab