HER2 is a paradigm of a molecular target whose appropriate assessment is pivotal in the targeting of novel therapies for breast cancer, notably including Herceptin/Trastuzumab. Determining the correct levels requires immunohistochemical and molecular biological skills that are reproducible and measurable, coupled with a knowledge of the appropriate morphological and pathobiological context. Attaining these goals is not easy and laboratories testing for HER2 should maintain a high level of throughput of tests and engage in a recognized external quality assurance scheme. Fluorescence in-situ hybridization testing remains a particular challenge and there is a range of testing strategies. This testing forms the model for the identification of other novel molecular targets. In the future rapid throughput techniques such as real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (rqPCR), tissue microarrays or both should bring significant economies of cost and scale.
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