HER2/neu oncoprotein overexpression in epithelial ovarian cancer: evaluation of its prevalence and prognostic significance. Clinical study

Oncology. 2005;68(2-3):154-61. doi: 10.1159/000086958. Epub 2005 Jul 11.


Introduction: The HER2/neu proto-oncogene encodes a transmembrane receptor protein involved in the development and progression of the majority of cancers. Prior studies have shown that HER2/neu oncogene is overexpressed in approximately 15-30% of ovarian carcinomas. However findings regarding the overexpression and prognosis are still conflicting.

Methods: Our retrospective study was performed on 194 ovarian carcinoma tissues obtained at the time of first surgery. The staining procedure for HER2/neu overexpression was performed using a polyclonal antibody.

Results: HER2/neu overexpression was found in 53 out of 194 (27.3%) investigated cases of which 26 (13.4%) carcinomas were weakly positive (score 1+) and 27 (13.9%) moderately (score 2+) to intensely positive (score 3+). No significant relationship was found between HER2/neu score and main clinical and pathological features. Significant difference in overall survival was evident between negative women (0/1+) and positive women (2+/3+): 48 and 29 months, respectively (p = 0.04). In multivariate analysis HER2/neu overexpression appeared to be the only variable significantly correlated with progression and death. CA125 normalization at 3 and 6 months appeared a strong predictor of progression and survival.

Conclusion: In this study HER2/neu overexpression was associated with an increased risk of progression and death, especially among women with FIGO Stage I and II ovarian carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carcinoma / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / analysis*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptor, ErbB-2