Steroid receptor status and the epidemiology of breast cancer

Ann Epidemiol. 1991 Nov;1(6):513-23. doi: 10.1016/1047-2797(91)90023-6.


This case-control study examined risk factors for breast cancer according to tumor estrogen receptor (ER) status and progesterone receptor (PR) status. The data included 607 case patients and 1214 control subjects matched by age and residence. Of 528 case patients with steroid receptor information, 67% had ER-positive tumors and 55% had PR-positive tumors. Odds ratios for ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer were similar with respect to menopausal status, age at menarche, history of cystic breast disease, and Quetelet Index. Family history of breast cancer was a stronger risk factor for ER-negative than for ER-positive breast cancer and the odds ratios for number of births were suggestive of a different effect. While ER and PR status were highly correlated, there were some differences in their associations with risk factors. Odds ratios for PR-positive and PR-negative breast cancer differed for number of births and were suggestive of differences with respect to menopausal status, Quetelet Index, and family history of breast cancer. These findings do not suggest different causal pathways for ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer. However, they do indicate that PR status may play a role in the etiology of breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Menstruation
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone