Clinical significance of the epidermal growth factor receptor and HER2 receptor in resectable gastric cancer

Ann Surg Oncol. 2003 Apr;10(3):234-41. doi: 10.1245/aso.2003.05.010.


Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR or HER1) and its homolog c-erbB-2 (HER2) are membrane receptors. Both EGFR and HER2 genes are overexpressed in a variety of solid human cancers and are related to poor prognosis of the patients. The objective of this work was to evaluate the EGFR and HER2 contents in resectable gastric cancer, their possible relationship with clinicopathologic parameters of tumors, and their prognostic significance.

Methods: This was a prospective analysis of 63 patients with resectable gastric carcinomas, with a mean follow-up period of 40.7 months. Membranous EGFR levels were examined by radioligand binding assays, and cytosolic HER2 levels were examined by means of an immunoenzymatic assay.

Results: There was a wide variability of EGFR (1-1,239 fmol/mg of protein) and HER2 (7-20,863 NHU/mg of protein) levels in tumors. There was no significant correlation between these levels and patient or tumor characteristics. However, high levels of EGFR and HER2 were significantly associated with a shorter overall survival period (P =.03 and P =.02, respectively).

Conclusions: There is a wide variability in membranous EGFR levels and in cytosolic HER2 levels in gastric cancer, which seems to be related to the biological heterogeneity of these tumors. In addition, high tumor EGFR and HER2 levels were associated with an unfavorable outcome in patients with resectable gastric cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • ErbB Receptors / analysis
  • ErbB Receptors / biosynthesis*
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / physiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2