Progesterone receptor is a significant factor associated with clinical outcomes and effect of adjuvant tamoxifen therapy in breast cancer patients

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Jan;119(1):53-61. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0318-0. Epub 2009 Feb 10.


Estrogen receptor status in breast cancer is associated with response to hormonal therapy and clinical outcome. The additional value of progesterone receptor (PR) has remained controversial. We examine the value of PR for prognosis and response to tamoxifen on a population-based series of 4,046 invasive early stage breast cancer patients. Clinical information for age at diagnosis, stage, pathology, treatment and outcome was assembled for the study cohort; the median follow-up was 12.4 years. PR status was determined by immunohistochemistry using a rabbit monoclonal antibody on tissue microarrays built from breast tumor surgical excisions. Survival analyses, Kaplan-Meier functions and Cox proportional hazards regression models were applied to assess the associations between PR and breast cancer specific survival. Progesterone receptor was positive in 51% of all cases and 67% of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) cases. Survival analyses for both the whole cohort and ER+ cases given tamoxifen therapy showed that patients with PR+ tumors had 24% higher relative probability for breast cancer specific survival as compared to PR- patients, adjusted for ER, HER2, age at diagnosis, grade, tumor size, lymph node status and lymphovascular invasion covariates. Higher PR expression showed stronger association with patient survival. Log-likelihood ratio tests of multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models demonstrated that PR was an independent statistically significant factor for breast cancer specific survival in both the whole cohort and among ER+ cases treated with tamoxifen. PR adds significant prognostic value in breast cancer beyond that obtained with estrogen receptor alone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Receptors, Estrogen / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Progesterone / biosynthesis*
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Tamoxifen