Aims: To study cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast and its association with histological features. COX-2, an inducible prostaglandin synthase, has been shown to be important in mammary carcinogenesis, being associated with increased tumour size and unfavourable outcome in breast cancer. Animal studies indicate that COX-2 inhibition is effective in the prevention and treatment of mammary cancers.
Methods and results: Fifty-one cases of DCIS diagnosed during 1990-2000 were reviewed. Immunohistochemistry for COX-2 was performed and the COX-2 staining scores were correlated with histological features. The majority of cases [41 of 51 (80%)] had positive COX-2 staining, of which 13 cases (25%) had strong staining. High nuclear grade DCIS was significantly associated with increased COX-2 staining (P = 0.04).
Conclusions: High-grade lesions are known to be associated with a higher recurrence rate following excision and are often oestrogen receptor negative, and as such, may be less responsive to adjuvant tamoxifen therapy. There is a need to examine further the role of COX-2 expression in DCIS, as both a prognostic and predictive factor.