Immunohistochemical assay of neu/c-erbB-2 oncogene product in paraffin-embedded tissues in early breast cancer: retrospective follow-up study of 245 stage I and II cases

Mod Pathol. 1991 Jul;4(4):466-74.


The expression of neu oncoprotein was assayed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on 245 paraffin-embedded, Stage I and II breast cancers from patients treated at the City of Hope between the years 1980 and 1987. Only cases showing membrane staining were scored as positive. Fifty-four (22%) of the tumors stained positively for neu. Probability of disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) was compared based on neu positivity and other prognostic factors. Overall, DFS and OS did not differ significantly among neu-positive and neu-negative cases. However, when only cases with favorable (Stages I and II) nuclear grade were analyzed, OS and DFS were significantly lower in neu-positive cases, with a 9-fold increase in risk of death and a 3-fold increase in risk of relapse. Our findings suggest that immunohistologic study of neu oncoprotein may help to define patients at greater risk among low-stage/low-nuclear-grade patients with breast cancer, a group hitherto recognized as having a good prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, ErbB-2